(No.140) The International Telecommunication Regulations and Internet Governance: Multistakeholder Perspectives

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Status: 
Accepted
Workshop Theme: 
Managing Critical Internet Resources
Theme Question: 

CIR question no. 4. 

Concise Description of Workshop: 

The International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) are a binding treaty negotiated by the International Telecommunication Union in 1988. A World Conference on International Telecommunication (WCIT) will be convened in Dubai from 3-14 December 2012 to revise the ITRs. Member governments have made many proposals pertaining to such issues as the definition of covered telecommunications services and providers, name and number resources, routing, interconnection, compensation, quality of service, security, standards, and other issues that, if adopted, could impact the Internet and make the ITRs a multilateral form of global Internet governance. A great many Internet stakeholders do not participate in the ITU and do not have access to the documents under discussion.  Accordingly, this workshop provides stakeholders an opportunity to openly debate the potential risks and benefits of the Internet-related proposals.

Organiser(s) Name: 

Media Change and Innovation Division, Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich, Switzerland 
The Internet Society
with the co-sponsorship of:
Association for Progressive Communications 
Institute for Internet Policy & Law, Beijing Normal University, China
Oxford Internet Institute 
 

Submitted Workshop Panelists: 

Moderator

Markus Kummer,  Vice President of Public Policy, The Internet Society, Switzerland [confirmed]

Panellists
Richard Beaird,  Senior Deputy United States Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, Department of State, Government of the United States  [confirmed]
Vint Cerf,  Chief Internet Evangelist, Google, USA  [confirmed]
 
William J. Drake,  International Fellow & Lecturer Media Change & Innovation Division, Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich, Switzerland  [confirmed]
 
Geoff Huston,  Chief Scientist, Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), Australia  [confirmed]
 
Alice Munyua,  Chair of the Kenya Internet Governance Steering Committee, Ministry of Information and Communications, Government of Kenya  [confirmed]
 
Franklin Silva Netto,  Head of the Division for the Information Society, Ministry of External Relations, Government of Brazil  [confirmed]

Name of Remote Moderator(s): 
Olivier Crepin-Leblond, Chair of ICANN's At Large Committee, France
Gender Report Card
Please estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session: 
About half of the participants were women
To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women's empowerment?: 
It was not seen as related to the session theme and was not raised
Report
Reported by: 
Karen Mulberry, ISOC
A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were raised: 

 
The topic of this workshop, International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) and Internet Governance: Multistakeholder Perspectives is a “hot issue” in light of the December 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) meeting in Dubai. The conversation identified some core principals for the revision of the ITRs.  The main principals proposed were:
• The ITRs should not be expanded to cover the Internet, explicitly or implicitly.
• The stakeholders who are affected by regulation should have something to say about it before those regulations are adopted. 
• Don't regulate for the wrong reason.
 
It was also noted that the key is to analyze what the effects of regulation will be before any are adopted.  One of the worst things that can happen is to discover that the side effects of a regulation are so damaging that it destroys the very system that one is trying to support, enhance and evolve.  Therefore discussion centered on a need to establish a way forward at WCIT that preserves the Internet's utility and allows it to continue to evolve.  The discussion then proceeded to address a range of additional points. One concerned claims that the existing International Telecommunication Regulations deserve the credit for catalyzing the development of the Internet because they allowed Administrations to enter into special arrangements with counterparts that could include the liberalization of leased circuits and networks.  While such claims are overdone, it was recognized that the 1988 ITRs did remove an important treaty barrier to change.
 
The workshop then explored the processes that Kenya, Brazil, and the United States are undertaking to consult with private industry and civil society on the various proposals that have been put forth to modify and add to the existing ITR treaty text.  The workshop explored the various mechanisms being used to develop national and regional proposals for consideration during the WCIT discussions.  There was also an extended  substantive discussion discussion of on onethe proposal pbut forward by ETNO to add new text to the treaty that would have an impact on the Internet by creating aInternet-related provisions, including one requirement encouraging interconnection agreements based on that a content provider or senders pays for network transport.principle.
 
In addition, there was a discussion of the differences between the Internet and traditional circuit switched telephony. It was noted that convergence and the emerging shift of public switched telephone networks to IP-based networks could increasingly complicate efforts to draw a bright line between Internet Governance and telecommunications regulation.  Nevertheless, it was argued that the Internet and Internet Governance should not be addressed at this WCIT and the focus of the ITRs should remain on enabling international telecommunication services as these have long been defined in the treaty.

Conclusions and further comments: 

 
It was agreed in the concluding discussion that the Internet model works. It is also important to recognize that when the Internet was first being constructed, it was a series of private packet switched networks connected via TCP/IP and agreements between parties.  Two questions were raised that will need to be addressed in the ITR debate; the definition of recognized operating agency, and the treatment of IP interconnection.  Finally, it was noted that public policy needs to be for the public good, and to take into account the people whose lives are going to impacted.  Hence, any closed intergovernmental discussions of the Internet, which is about open and permissionless innovation, are problematic.   
 
In conclusion, given the potential hazards in renegotiating the ITR treaty, the smartest outcome for this WCIT would be minimal changes to the existing regulations.