I support Doha Telco treaty without Net control

Posted on December 14, 2012 02:19 am

About 150 nations met in Dubai to update a set of telecom rules dating back to 1988, way before the Internet and mobile phones became a hit. It was supposed to be an acrimonious meeting that would have pitted the pro and anti net freedom. Luckily for pro Internet freedom like ended up carrying the day when an international telecommunications treaty signed by over 80 countries today although it comes to effect in 2015.Why would mobile carrier that I subscribe to or how I surf the web or even make calls around have control on me?The acrimony over the treaty and rejection of plenty of countries like United States and European countries to sign up has no doubt in my mind laid bare a deep split in the international community. US-led a group of its allies in advocating a hands-off approach to the Internet. Russia, China and most countries from Africa and the Middle East sought greater governmental oversight of cyberspace.The Doha meeting has clearly drawn a line under how far they believe the ITU can go in relation to regulations that include the Internet. For those who don’t know, the 1988 version stipulated that International Telecom Regulations was the issuance of guidelines on technical issues.Countries signatory to the treaty are guided by its principles despite the fact that they have no force of law.

Users in those countries that limit certain content still experience the similar version of the Internet. Telecom operators will feel little impact since international call charges are agreed through commercial contracts amongst themselves. The new version clearly defines how governments should protect the security of networks. One of the reason why I support the new treaty is a clause that allow countries to restrict any explicit Internet provisions to a non-binding resolution that accompanies the treaty.The debate over the Internet overshadowed all else at the summit, despite the ITU insisting that regulating cyberspace was not on the agenda.There were also important reforms with the new treaty, such as provisions to improve broadband access to landlocked and island nations. Also, am impressed by the call for greater transparency in roaming charges, which the ITU hopes will end alarming cost that has continued to affect many customers.Another impressive development was commitment to improve disabled access to telecom services and for governments to reduce telecom equipment waste.Most of the issues are very critical in developing countries, with other countries having already addressed them to a large extent, so richer nations had less incentive to sign the treaty and that’s another reason why I support it. Their failure to find a consensus may herald a new fight over cyberspace but I see it’s a better treaty than previous one.


Contador Harrison