Friday, November 30, 2012

U.N. summit could lead to Internet regulations

A free and open Internet may be at risk from the United Nations summit that will take place in Dubai next week, according to speakers at a Stanford University event.

Held on Tuesday at Stanford Law School, technology industry association CALinnovates hosted an afternoon session with several high-profile panelists including Ambassador David Gross, Larry Irving, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Patrick Ryan, Policy Counsel for Google, Inc., among others.

“We had a truly star-studded panel that came together in agreement that we must take action to protect the existing multi-stakeholder approach to regulating Internet services and infrastructure that has been critical to maintaining a free and open Internet, encouraging private investment, and supporting innovation and free flowing ideas,” said CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery. “I believe we succeeded in raising awareness about the implications of WCIT and in encouraging Silicon Valley leaders to pay close attention to and engage in global actions and federal policies regulating the Internet because it’s a direct threat to Silicon Valley’s prosperity and our nation’s digital future.”

The Dubai summit has received criticism from several groups, including the European Parliament, the Internet Society, and international civil liberties groups. The UN meeting is being organized by the International Telecommunication Union to rewrite the multilateral treaty International Telecommunications Regulations, originally written in 1988.

“A free and open Internet is the platform for free expression,” said Patrick Ryan, an attorney for Google, at the event.

Last fall, China, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan submitted a proposal to the UN asking for an International Code of Conduct for Information Security that would control information that “undermines other countries’ political, economic, and social stability.”

According to Larry Irving, world leaders are trying to regulate the Internet due to fear.

“Fear is a great driver and people like to regulate what they fear,” Irving said.

The United States has weighed in against regulating the Internet. The House of Representatives unanimously approved a resolution that endorsed a “global Internet free from government control.”
“The only difference between Republicans and Democrats is who can be harder in support of a free and open Internet,” said U. S. ambassador David Gross.

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