ITU Issues Key Draft Negotiating Document

15 August 2012

The International Telecommunication Union has released a draft policy concerning possible changes to international telecommunication regulations in advance of the December’s World Conference on International Telecommunications.

The ITU Council on July 13 announced its intention to publish some of the material being sought by its critics. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

 The ITU has invited public comments and established a page on its website to receive public comments  in advance the December meeting, delegates will consider revising international telecommunication regulations.

The ITU did not indicate if it will release other materials in advance of the conference, such as proposals from member governments and summaries of them.

However, the announcement indicated that governments may choose to release WCIT materials in their possession.

The Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington-based nongovernmental organization, said in a blog post that the ITU’s action was a “very small … first step toward transparency.” Cynthia Wong wrote, “The vast majority of documents related to the WCIT process, including specific positions governments are taking on behalf of their citizens, remain locked behind a password wall and are only available to Member States and Sector Members.”

She further wrote:

The document the Council has decided to release, called TD-64, does not provide any information about which governments proposed specific text and whether that proposal has support of other governments.  That information is provided in the “matrix” document TD-62 (leaked here), which collects all of the proposals made thus far and includes necessary commentary from Members about the asserted need for proposed amendments as well as the potential impact proposals would have on the Internet. This information is vital, both for understanding the complexity behind seemingly subtle changes to the treaty text, and for allowing civil society to engage in public discussion with government and experts to weigh in on the proposals’ human rights or technical impact.

Wong also said:

Perhaps the most significant statement out of the meeting was the Secretary General’s clarification that “all ITU members have full access to all WCIT-12 documents and can share them within their constituencies.” That means the ITU has given a clear signal that it is placing the onus for transparency and participation back on Member States. The question is whether and how member states will take up the challenge.

CDT believes each Member State of the ITU needs to move quickly to:

  • Publicly release preparatory documents for the WCIT, including revisions of the TD-62 compilation of Member State proposals and the final report of the Council Working Group
  • Publicly release the Member State’s own proposals for revising the treaty
  • Convene open, public consultations to solicit input from all stakeholders to inform the Member State’s positions in advance of the WCIT.

A brief examination of documents released so far reveals that Member States and industry members are proposing matters that go to core issues of policy and the technical functioning of the Internet—including but going far beyond mere technical matters. Member States must take the steps outlined above to ensure full consideration of the proposals’ impact on Internet openness, human rights, and economic growth.

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Filed under: IFTI Watch

ABOUT IFTI WATCH

In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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