Clashes over Internet regulation during UN talks

Concerns raised by tech giants that new rules could be used by China and Russia to justify further online monitoring

The head of the UN's telecommunication overseers sought Monday to quell worries about possible moves toward greater Internet controls during global talks in Dubai, but any attempts for increased Web regulations are likely to face stiff opposition from groups led by a major US delegation.

The 11-day conference — seeking to update codes last reviewed when the Web was virtually unknown — highlights the fundamental shift from tightly managed telecommunications networks to the borderless sweep of the Internet. 

But others at the Dubai conference — including a 123-member US delegation with envoys from tech giants such as Google and Microsoft — worry that any new UN oversight on the Internet security could be used by nations such as China and Russia to justify further tightening of Web blocks and monitoring. 

"Love the free and open Internet? Tell the world's governments to keep it that way," said a message on the main search page of Google.com with a link for comments directed to the Dubai conference. 

The Dubai gathering will confront questions that include how much sway the UN can exert over efforts such as battling cyber-crimes and expanding the Internet into developing nations.

The secretary-general of the UN International Telecommunications Union, Hamadoun Toure, said that accusations how the meeting could limit Web freedoms is "completely untrue" and predicted only "light-touch" regulations. 

"Many countries will come to reaffirm their desire to see freedom of expression embedded in this conference," he told reporters on the meeting's opening day. 

However, the outcome of the Dubai gathering is far from certain. 

The 193 nations at the meeting have put forward more than 900 proposed regulatory changes covering the Internet, mobile roaming fees and satellite and fixed-line communications. Broad consensus is needed for any item to be adopted for any changes — the first major review of the UN's telecommunications agenda since 1988, well before the Internet age. 

The gathering is also powerless to force nations to change their Internet policies, such as China's notorious "Great Firewall" and widespread blackouts of political opposition sites in places including Iran and the Gulf Arab states. Last week, Syria's Internet and telephone services disappeared for two days during some of the worst fighting in months to hit the capital, Damascus. 

The head of the US delegation in Dubai, Ambassador Terry Kramer, told reporters last week in Washington that all efforts should be made to avoid a "Balkanization" of the Internet in which each country would impose its own rules and standards that could disrupt the flow of commerce and information. 

"That opens the door ... to content censorship," he said. 

The International Trade Union Confederation, representing labor groups in more than 150 countries, claimed a bloc that includes China, Russia and several Middle East nations seeks to "pave the way for future restrictions on both internet content or its users." 

"It is clear that some governments have an interest in changing the rules and regulations of the Internet," the confederation said in statement. 

Another likely battle that will take place in Dubai is over European-backed suggestions to change the pay structure of the Web to force content providers — such as Google, Facebook Inc. and others — to kick in an extra fee to reach users across borders. Advocates of the changes say the money raised could pay to expand broadband infrastructures in developing countries. 

Toure said he hoped for a "landmark" accord on trying to bring broadband Internet to developing countries. "The Internet remains out of reach for 2/3 of world's people," said Toure, who is from Mali. 

The UN telecommunications agency dates back to 1865, when the telegraph revolutionized the speed of information. Over the decades, it has expanded to include telephone, satellite and other advances in communications.

AP

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Manchester United team walk out ahead of the pre-season friendly between Manchester United and Inter Milan at FedExField
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
media
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior C++ Developer

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Senior C++ Developer – L...

SEN English Teacher

upto £110 a day approx: Randstad Education Cheshire: English EBD Teacher requi...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Client Services Associate (MS Office, Analysis, Graduate)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client Services Associate (Microsoft Office, Ana...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz