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Posted by on Dec 20, 2012 in Internet |

WCIT concludes with a treatise on telecommunications is far from perfect

WCIT concludes with a treatise on telecommunications is far from perfect

(Cc) itupictures

Sebastian Bellagamba is director of the regional office of the Internet Society for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The World Conference on International (WCIT or WCIT) is a conference organized by the treaty body dedicated to telecommunications in the United Nations, (International Telecommunication Union). Importantly, a conference is ending an international treaty establishing the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs RTI or English).

The latest revision of the treaty, the ITRs, was held in 1988 in Melbourne, Australia, so it makes sense that as time passed, deserved a review, and that’s what happened in Dubai in recent weeks . The current ITRs were established at a time when the rule was that telcos were generally monopolistic and state, where cellphones were very few globally and where the was still an academic experiment. In summary, the existing ITRs normalize the way that few national operators interact with their counterparts from other countries. All this adds to the need for a revision of the ITRs.

Basically, the ITRs determine how international telecommunications services operate across borders. The treaty establishes rules on issues such as:

  • Traffic flows between telecommunication network operators
  • Quality of international
  • Routing, charges, billing and accounting between operators
  • Prioritization of safety and health services, among others

The bottom line, from the perspective of the Internet Society, is that many of these concepts do not apply to the Internet.

The international exchange Internet traffic is exempt from these rules, as it was always accepted that fits the conditions of Article 9 of the ITRs, entitled Special Arrangements, which leaves room for exceptions to the rules laid down in the treaty. Given this, is that the Internet as network grew very different telephony networks: for example, is not based on the concept of quality of service, but in what is called “best effort (best effort in English)”, where agreements that were created between Internet network operators are based instead on the free exchange peer (peering) that the financial compensation scheme applying phone operators (arranged in the ITRs).

In fact, a recent OECD report confirms that 80% of Internet traffic is exchanged for peering (I accept all your traffic, you accept all mine, and do not worry about how much traffic count was, and this does not even There is an economic value associated with this exchange!); surprisingly, 95% of those peering agreements are informal (ie: only a handshake agreement guarantees, not a formal contract).

What are the risks of WCIT?

A first important risk losing sight of the distinctions made between the Internet and pre-existing networks, and to want to regulate telecommunications regardless of these distinctions can lead to disruptive scenarios for the Internet (for example, the imposition of the concept of the mobile quality basic Internet service would lead to difficult technical problems to overcome, because the Internet was developed with a completely different concept).

Another troubling scenario is to abandon the original spirit of the ITRs: the existing treaty is high operational level, giving way to management details to telecom operators and regulators. There are many proposals that level down to the operational (if for a moment, and as an extreme example, imagine that the economic conditions ITRs send traffic exchange for all networks, free peering scenario would be lost, in clear prejudice to users).

A third scenario of concern is the specific proposals in the name of security and protecting citizens propose a control by governments of critical Internet resources (from the data routing system that uses the Internet, through the root servers, the IP address records, among others), Internet content (“let us see all your Internet activities and can contain child pornography and spam”, for example) and current models of development of new Internet standards and protocols (today, standards such as IP or WiFi, HTML or video over the Internet are developed by different organizations, dissimilar, including ITU, IETF, IEEE, W3C, among others, but there are proposals to ITU standards are mandatory, which would undermine other development bodies are what keep the features open Internet as we know it).

What happened in Dubai?

For two weeks, from 3 to 14 December 2012, 140 governments discussed the documents that became a new proposal ITRs for signature by Member States of the ITU. Content (in English) of this new regulation can be viewed here [PDF] .

This document is the result of negotiations, and as such will surely not leave fully satisfied with any of the negotiating parties. So much so, that of the more than 140 governments present in Dubai, only 89 signed the final acts , and adhering to the treaty. The other government reserved the right to sign the minutes later.

From the perspective of the Internet Society, the regulations that emerged from negotiations in Dubai is far from perfect: the negotiation process is not transparent and participatory treaty’s provisions dealing with security and spam that we disagree in addition to a resolution on Internet (the no. 3), which although not binding as such, does not benefit (to say nothing of the procedure leading to the inclusion of this resolution, which also gets the credit to poor transparency).

Now, what was the line that separated those who signed the treaty of non?’s Decision to sign or not to sign a treaty is ultimately a political decision, the details of which are unique to each country. We, however, agree with the delegations that have shown a significant concern with several aspects of the final treaty, including new provisions on security and spam, as well as the global reach of the treaty. And while the resolutions are not binding instruments, we do not believe that the added resolution on Internet abruptly appropriate or useful for the results of a treaty.

Having said that, we do not believe that it is useful to reduce the result set of sides: there were several countries that sought control of the internet and content in this conference, but we do not believe in any way that all those governments who agreed to the proposed treaty favor, or agreement, or promoting, this type of control. In fact, many Latin American governments expressed their commitment to the treaty at the same time made clear its adherence to clear principles and transparent multiparticipaciun Internet governance (clearly the case of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Mexico, among others); who did not sign, but should consult internally even if they will in the future (Chile and Colombia, for example) and those who said they did not think signing (Costa Rica). Among these governments, unlike nuances consensus prevailed on an open Internet and multi-stakeholder.

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