The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

US facing pressures from backers of greater Internet controls at UN conference in Dubai

  • Print

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Talks over possible new U.N. regulations for the Internet were deeply divided Monday, with Russia and others advocating for more government sway while a U.S.-led bloc warned against rules that could restrict freedoms in cyberspace.

The Dubai conference, which wraps up later this week, is not empowered to bring about any immediate changes on how the Internet operates. But the U.S. and its backers argue that sanctioning greater government roles in Internet oversight could allow governments that already heavily censor Web traffic, such as China or Iran, to justify more restrictions and monitoring.

A high-powered U.S. delegation — including representatives from tech giants such as Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. — has tried to block all discussions of possible Internet regulations. The effort, however, has met strong headwinds from countries such as Russia that want a greater control over Net commerce and security.

So far, the closed-door talks have failed to find much common ground at the 193-nation U.N. International Telecommunications Union, which last updated its rules in 1988 before the Internet became a global force.

"What's happened in the conference is a variety of proposals have come in from other nations that get into the Internet, that look at Internet governance," said the head of the 123-member U.S. delegation, Ambassador Terry Kramer, in a video uploaded by organizers late Sunday. "It creates an open door for review of content and potential censorship there. It will create a chilling environment for the Internet."

For several days, U.S.-led envoys fought against a proposal submitted by the host United Arab Emirates, which last month passed sweeping new Internet laws outlawing social media posts that insult rulers or call for protests.

The proposal — backed by countries such Russia, China and other Arab states — was removed from discussion Monday, conference organizers said, after an uproar from Web activists supporting the American position. Among its provisions was a call for governments to have "equal rights to manage the Internet," including its technical workings, according to a text leaked by a website, wcitleaks.org. The site claimed to have access to meeting documents not yet made public.

It's unclear, however, whether the American views have gained the upper hand as the talks move into their final days. U.S. officials say other proposals that support a greater government voice in Internet affairs are still active.

Many experts on Internet technology believe the proposals could further squeeze the Net in countries where it is closely regulated, even though it won't fundamentally alter cyberspace in places with traditions of openness.

"These proposals would break what's working —freedom of information and freedom of access," tech analyst Elise Ackerman wrote in a column for Forbes. "And they wouldn't help fix the parts of the Internet that need reinforcing, namely security and privacy."

She noted, however, the conference reflects a general push for more "international policymaking" as the U.S. dominance of the Internet weakens.

On Monday, the head of the U.N. telecoms agency, Hamadoun Toure, was scheduled to meet with civil society groups who have complained of being excluded from the talks.

Other issues at the conference also remain unresolved, including a European-led proposal to charge content providers for access to cross-border markets. The idea is strongly opposed by U.S. companies such as Google, Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and others. Supporters say the so-called "toll" could be used by developing countries to fund expansion of Internet services.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Your Vote: The Blue Bombers All-Time Team

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Weather standup. Sundog. Refraction of light through ice crystals which caused both the sun dog and and fog along McPhillips Road early Wednesday morning. 071205.
  • STDUP ‚Äì Beautiful West End  begins it's summer of bloom with boulevard s, front yards  and even back lane gardens ,  coming alive with flowers , daisies and poppies  dress up a backyard lane on Camden St near Wolseley Ave  KEN GIGLIOTTI  / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  June 26 2012

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What should the legal drinking age be?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google