The #ITU’s Fire Sale and Some Solutions From the Interwebs

For a long time we’ve warned anyone who will listen that the #ITU, in particular through the processes leading up to its December 3-14, 2012 Dubai meeting known as the #WCIT 2012, is up to no good, and that the internet as we know it is threatened as a result. Tonight we are pleased to feature in the blog thoughts of an #Anonymous contributor, as well as Rod Beckstrom (World Economic Forum Future of Internet Vice Chair, Hi-tech CEO, ex Dir. of Natl Cyber. Ctr, ex ICANN CEO) and Tracy Rosenberg (Executive Director, Media Alliance).

If you have seen not yet seen information on the #ITU and #WCIT 2012, probably the first broadly circulated online action item on this that was circulated by a civil society group was developed by @theopenmedia, with a representative example seen below:

Some additional, more recent information ~ [[ the following @Forbes article includes a featured comment by the primary author of this blog, @AnonyOdinn ]]

Google, the International Trade Union Federation, and many others have gotten behind a Stop the Net Grab effort which has gained a lot of steam and attention and is currently featured at: http://google.com/takeaction The idea is apparently to appeal to the UN and ITU itself to immediately open the UN ITU’s plan for global debate and demanding a delay of any decision until all stakeholders (not just governments) are given a voice. This is good, though obviously more must be done to address the very problematic issues and net threats that have been created here by the ITU member states and the ITU organization itself. (Not to mention that the UN ITU has no business whatsoever as an organization in internet governance affairs.)

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/news/united-nations-wants-control-of-web-kill-switch/story-fnejlrpu-1226515234163#ixzz2DaFrOxRz

The question has gone out, what are some legal organizations, processes, etc., that can counter #WCIT proposals?

And the following are the responses to this question that have been received back from various sectors of the community rightly concerned with this issue.

I. #Anonymous Entity

“Trade agreements – If each country basically ends up with their own internet, that’s gonna wreack hell on international trade.”

II. Rod Beckstrom [ @RodBeckstrom ], World Economic Forum Future of Internet Vice Chair, Hi-tech CEO, Catalyst/Starfish&Spider co-author, keynote speaker, ex Dir. of Natl Cyber. Ctr, ex ICANN CEO:

“I think the multi-stakeholder orgs of ICANN, ISOC, & Regional Internet Registries are the ITU alternative that works.”

III. Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director of Media Alliance http://www.media-alliance.org/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tracy-rosenberg/

“Biggest threat public vs private internets re: itu. Legally? govt jurisdiction over the free trade of thoughts?”

When asked if she had additional thoughts on what legal organization(s), collaboration, or processes could counter #ITU #WCIT, Tracy responded,

“Complex stuff. Here’s IFLA’s list of groups in the space
http://www.ifla.org/faife/links/intellectual-freedom-human-rights-organisations … – perhaps a coalition?”

A (very broad) coalition of human rights / civil society groups that could deal with issues in all these areas would seem to be a very positive and effective way to address the problematic proposals that are likely to come out of the #ITU #WCIT 2012 in Dubai as a result of the member states convening there from December 3-14. If such a coalition were to include the multi-stakeholder organizations of ICANN, ISOC, & Regional Internet Registries, internet proposals of the coalition of a broad variety could be made, including ones that could counter or be considered by the world internet community to trump anything done by the ITU, that would ensure that the internet is not turned into a tool by autocratic member states of the ITU. All people around the world should be made welcome in this coalition, for example, ICANN, ISOC, etc, would be members of the same coalition as would any person, association, or organization, around the world, so it shouldn’t matter if you are more into ICANN, more #Anonymous, more #OpenNIC, more #kopimi or less, or none of the above. The overarching purpose should be #netfreedom and total independence from top-down autocratic organizations that desire to disrupt the multishakeholder model and impose their rule over the net. As @biellacoleman has correctly pointed out, our wierdness must be free.

It has already been proven that the Russian Federation and various staff and entities within the ITU have turned WCIT 12 ~ and arguably any ITU activity associated with networks ~ into a fire sale, designed to disable, censor and impede open networks (and even disable sites, software, and technology used by millions) at moments of political convenience. (For further reference on this subject, please see the @AnonyOdinn comment in the Forbes article shown above.) Therefore, part of the coalition task should be to examine with substantial vigilance, the activities in 2013 that autocratic governments hope to undertake in secret. This is partly because the “fire sale by governments / #ITU” concept implies that there is an ongoing governmental intent to partially disable systems (something we have already seen governments around various parts of the globe do) within the context of a “unified policy” (ITRs, TD64s, national laws, secret directives, and ad-hoc actions and “cyber programs”) as part of governmental efforts to mask actions that they would not normally be able to undertake without substantial public scrutiny. Undoubtedly, the #ITU proposals we have seen leak thus far will only serve to encourage governments with autocratic tendencies to rely further on such proposals. It is obvious after a short review that the #ITU should be confined to a very limited scope of operation, continuing its older and traditional work involving satellites and telephones, essentially. Its foray into modern networks (the internet) is unwelcome, to say the least, given what we have seen from the leaked proposals.

A coalition to counter the #ITU of the type discussed (involving human rights / civil society groups, with the multi-stakeholder organizations of ICANN, ISOC, & Regional Internet Registries) would be in a key position to garner the attention of people from around the world with proposals from #netfreedom and would ultimately render governments that adopt the #ITU model irrelevant. It would be good to have @internetsociety as part of such a broad coalition too, because @internetsociety is one of the few organizations that formally has a voice at the #ITU and would be able to deliver (as it has in the recent past) the voices of many who have protested against the #ITU. Although there are arguments by activists against any engagement with this #ITU body, at some point a massive coalition of the kind described, must engage the antiquated and irrelevant thing that is the #ITU if for no other reasons than to formally communicate that the bulk of people in the world have deemed it irrelevant in terms of any statemements, concurrences, or policies it may come to with respect to the internet. The @internetsociety is in a good position to do exactly that and its recent comment to the ITU partially describing the protectinternetfreedom.org signatories was a great example.

It is probably a good idea that whatever coalition or collaboration comes out of this overall effort that it be long-term and persistent rather than temporary. There appear to be events around the world which are timed effectively to harm rights of people. The Russian effort to make Tor illegal is happening at the same time that the #ITU #WCIT 2012 begins in Dubai (Dec. 3-14, 2012). A major U.S. case in which the U.S. government is pushing for substantial warrantless surveillance powers will be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 14, 2012, immediately after the conclusion of the #ITU #WCIT conference in Dubai. The #NDAA military indefinite detention law which government claims to be able to use to allow to indefinitely detain anyone without due process of law, without charge or trial, is once again challenged, this time before the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court on Dec. 17, 2012, though it will have impacts for people across the globe. Versions of “Strikes” laws or extra-legal policies are now seen, in France (a “Three Strikes” system) and in the U.S. (a #SixStrikes system) as examples. In many countries, including Russian Federation, China, Iran, North Korea, but also some other traditionally more open countries such as Australia and the U.S., there are disturbing signs that the net has already become something much more restrictive than we ever previously anticipated only a few short years ago.

More on this for your background and review:

http://www.zdnet.com/u-n-readies-for-protests-on-eve-of-secret-internet-regulation-treaty-7000007962/

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/27/net-us-un-internet-idUSBRE8AQ06320121127

Brief update added 12:20 AM, 11/29/2012:
The paid trolls of the #ITU were out in force late in the evening of 11/28/2012 as the paranoia of the #ITU rose to a fever pitch at the possibility that it will in the very near future be relegated to the wastebin of dead bureacratic organizations of history that have overreached, committed epic fails, and so on. Toby Johnson, a “Comms Professional” for the ITU, put out a tweet claiming that “ITU member states resolve to end discriminatory access to the internet,” an incredible and ludicrous claim considering the leaked documents demonstrating the effects of the ITU proposals on TOR, just as one example. In his tweet bio he claims that “opinions are all mine and not my employers,” yet the link in his tweet goes directly to his employer’s page — the ITU — and the page has his name on it. (Again, what we are seeing is paid ITU trolls, getting money to go out, troll social media using their personal accounts or whatever is available, and make ludicrous claims in an attempt to convince the world that everyone should trust the ITU to handle the internet.) What does the ITU document say? “ITU’s membership has adopted a Resolution inviting ITU Member States to refrain from taking any unilateral and/or discriminatory actions that could impede another Member State from accessing public Internet sites and using resources, within the spirit of Article 1 of the Constitution and the WSIS principles.” Nice to know. Great that member states have “invited” themselves to refrain from “unilateral” actions. We really doubt that this resolution will change the fact that the ITU / WCIT is secret and off limits to the public, that the head of the Rostelecom (from the Russian Federation) is chairing the ITU’s WCIT Management team, that the ITU still has not released all its documents to the public, that the ITU and its member states are still trying to make TOR illegal, and so on and so forth. But incredibly, that is not all. The document claims that “broadband services that we have come to rely on would simply not work” without the ITU and that “ITU also provides the spectrum allocation for wifi and mobile broadband” — an incredible falsehood since the real management of these issues (and critically, the public involvement) occurs based on how different national governments interact and engage with citizenry on laws and rulemaking in the telecommunications arena. If anything, this tweet, shown below, should make us even MORE concerned about the intentions of the ITU — not less so. These sort of messages are revealing — not because they show us that international bodies are needed, but that we need work to get rid of bodies like the #ITU before they can do real harm.

FALSEHOOD MUCH, TOBY?

~ ~ ~

Hopefully this will lead to a lot of thought about what is next for the Internet and, it is hoped, a broad coalition will form to protect and develop the internet in ways that will reshape the governance of it and protect it from autocrats. Whatever happens next, it’s clearly going to be very different than what we’ve known before… be part of the solution and make your voice heard.

~ Óðinn

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