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InternetNZ sees censorship, economic threats in UN power grab

In a new position paper published today, InternetNZ has expressed concern about governments legitimising the suspension of internet services that are “contrary to its laws, to public order or to decency.”

Concerns have also been expressed about a proposal that seeks to impose the legacy telecommunications economic model of “sending party network pays” to replace what it calls the well established and proven “accessing party pays” of the internet.

These concerns are in addition to governments seeking greater control of internet governance and international networks.

InternetNZ’s position paper is on the upcoming review of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), objecting to proposals that would see the Internet included as regulated subject matter.    

The ITRs are an international treaty administered by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) – a United Nations agency. Designed to set regulatory standards for international telecommunications, they date from 1988 and are being revised to take account of major developments in the technological landscape since then.  

InternetNZ opposes the inclusion of any Internet-related function in the ITRs whatsoever. Internet governance should be determined by open, multi-stakeholder processes and neither the UN nor governments via the ITU should have the power or ability to assume its control.    

A recent OECD report has noted that, “Operating in a highly competitive environment, largely without regulation or central organisation, the Internet model of traffic exchange has produced low prices, promoted efficiency and innovation, and attracted the investment necessary to respond to rising demand.”

InternetNZ believes that a proposal put forward by ETNO (European Telecommunication Network Operators’ Association) to impose a legacy telecommunications model is rent-seeking and will reduce access to online information and services, particularly for developing and remote countries.

Proposals by certain ITU Member States also pose a threat to free speech online and seek sanction for the measures they take within their own national boundaries. InternetNZ objects to such a move as human rights, including free speech, should apply online.             

ICT Minister Amy Adams announced at last week’s NetHui South event in Dunedin that the New Zealand government is opposed to the inclusion of the Internet in the ITRs, suggesting that existing Internet governance arrangements are satisfactory.

InternetNZ Chief Executive Vikram Kumar welcomes Minister Adams’ announcement and encourages all those with an interest in the ITRs to read InternetNZ’s position paper.

Mr Kumar says if the Internet is included in the ITRs, the open precepts upon which the Internet was built will be shaken to their very core, and the global innovation and development that the Internet has enabled will be suffocated.

“Quite simply, the ITU is the wrong body to be involving itself in internet-related issues. It should step back and retain its focus on areas where it has provided value in the past,” he says. 

InternetNZ’s position paper is available here.

The ITRs are being reviewed next week in Dubai by Member States of the International Telecommunications Union. The voices of the community and civil society are largely excluded. 
 

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