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Google Raises Alarm On ITU Internet Treaty Discussions

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Tech giant worried governments will ruin the Internet

Google has voiced concern over a closed-door meeting that will re-negotiate a communications treaty that determines how the Internet works.

Talks will be held by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in early December, during its World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai, to agree a new information and communications treaty. It has said it wants to ensure “the free flow of information” across the world so the Internet and the economies around it can innovate and grow.

The original International Telecommunication Regulations agreement was signed in 1988 and needed updating, the ITU said.

WWW, Internet © beboy Shutterstock 2012“There is broad consensus that the text now needs to be updated to reflect the dramatically different information and communication technology (ICT) landscape of the 21st century,” the ITU said.

Google worried over ITU meet

But Google and others are concerned that only governments are allowed to voice their opinions during the ITU discussion, whereas users and the engineers who make the Internet work are not involved at all.

That’s despite the ITU saying 1800 representatives would be gathering during the December meeting, including members of private industry, R&D institutions, academia and the public. It appears Google has not been invited to the discussions.

Google is also worried that governments with a history of Internet censorship will have too much of a say. It noted that 42 countries filter and censor content and in the last two years governments have enacted 19 new laws “threatening online free expression”.

“Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech — or even allow them to cut off Internet access,” Google said, on its Take Action page.

“Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information – particularly in emerging markets.

“The ITU is the wrong place to make decisions about the future of the Internet. Only governments have a voice at the ITU.

“This includes governments that do not support a free and open Internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote.

“The ITU is also secretive. The treaty conference and proposals are confidential.”

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