Civil society organizations from around the world are requesting more transparency from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as it considers proposals that could give it power to regulate the Internet. This request is grounded in WSIS commitments to build a people-centered, inclusive, and development-oriented Information Society, which depends on the meaningful participation of all stakeholders in the regulation and management of the global ICT environment.
As we noted earlier this year, the ITU’s World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) will take place in December in Dubai. At this conference, the world’s governments will address whether and how the ITU, a government-centric treaty body, will regulate policy and technical standards for the global Internet.
But the preparatory process for the WCIT is frustratingly opaque, especially for civil society stakeholders, with strong restrictions on access to documents and high barriers to ITU membership (including costs). Most Member States have not yet opened public processes to guide the development of their national positions or to seek input on their proposals, some of which present complex issues that go beyond merely technical interoperability of telecommunications infrastructure and may impact free expression, privacy, and other human rights.
Signed by civil society organizations and academics from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Egypt, the EU, India, Kenya, Pakistan, and the United States, the letter released today highlights these barriers to participation. As the letter notes,