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<nettime> ominous rumbling about global net regulations
t byfield on Wed, 15 Jan 2003 03:27:58 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> ominous rumbling about global net regulations


at the NYC N5M4 TML (there's a string for you) there was a bit of a
discussion about whether or how *ac(k)?tivists should pressure the
upcoming WSIS process. deedee halleck was all for it; my own view is
that they should do a bit of homework before diving into that mess.
it's only recently that the ITU has budged from its PTT-dominated po-
sition of despising the net; and there's no guarantee that, if it
faces a bloody mess, that it won't return to that position -- with
the added advantage of having magisterially 'listened' to 'civil so-
ciety' before swooping in to assert its consequently 'legitimized'
control. and, yes, all those '/' are scare quotes. 

my own interest in the ITU stems mainly from its increasing interest
in the 'technical administration' of the net, or, more specifically,
the overtures it's made to ICANN and some of its constituencies (in
the loose sense). this has two main aspects: relations with ccTLD
(country-code top-level domain) administrators, who, like national
telcos, occupy a pivotal position with regard to national govern-
ments; and its interest in the emerging ENUM standard. ENUM, to quote
the devil (neustar) is:

     ENUM (RFC 2916) is the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) 
     protocol that will assist in the convergence of the Public 
     Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and the IP network; it is 
     the mapping of a telephone number from the PSTN to Internet 
     services--telephone number in, URL out. ENUM was developed as
     a solution to the question of how to find services on the 
     Internet using only a telephone number, and how telephones, 
     which have an input mechanism limited to twelve keys on a 
     keypad, can be used to access Internet services.

that may sound kewl, but technically and politically it's the rough 
equivalent of a black art: not to be toyed with. more to the point,
there's little reason to trust that the ITU is the forum this should
be sorted out in -- if, indeed, it should be sorted out in any *one*
forum. 

ICANN at least was forced, by the very nature of the object it has 
sought to govern, was forced to operate with some measure of trans-
parency; the ITU is under no such constraints, and a cursory glance 
at the prices it charges for some of its publications makes clear 
that activists would go bankrupt merely trying to figure out WTF is
even going on, let alone intervening with any level of understanding
or sophistication. 

anyway, a bit of background:

     WSIS according to the ITU: 
          <http://www.itu.int/wsis/>

     ITU and ICANN:
          <http://www.icannwatch.org/article.pl?sid=02/10/21/205813>
          <http://www.whois.sc/news/2002-10/itu-icann.html>
          <http://www.icann.org/tlds/correspondence/itu-response-01nov00.htm>

     ITU 'helps' ccTLDs:
          <http://www.icannwatch.org/article.pl?sid=02/11/27/064016>
          <http://www.whois.sc/news/2002-11/itu-governments.html>

and now for the fun:

cheers,
t

<http://www.infoworld.com/articles/hn/xml/03/01/13/030113hnwsis.xml>

   UN summit could spark Net regulation talks
   
   By  Martyn  Williams
   January 13, 2003 6:08 am PT
   
   
   TOKYO -- A major United Nations summit on the information society due to 
   take place in December could be the spark for international talks on 
   regulations covering cyberspace and encompassing tax, freedom of speech, 
   intellectual property rights and privacy , the secretary general of the 
   International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said Monday.
   
   Yoshio Utsumi hopes nations attending the World Summit on the Information 
   Society (WSIS) will agree on the need for an international legal framework 
   for cyberspace, he said in an interview with IDG News Service. "These 
   issues are big issues in my opinion. Without solving these issues, the 
   free, secure use of cyberspace will not be possible," he said.
   
   "We need a common framework or regulatory regime because [the information 
   society] is borderless, and we have to create this new framework," he 
   said. "I am not intending to solve any specific problem with this 
   conference but to [get agreement on] a shared view that we have to solve 
   the problem of [issues such as] taxation, cybercrime or confidence in the 
   Internet."
   
   He was speaking at a three-day conference that began on Monday in Tokyo 
   and brings together representatives of governments, private companies and 
   nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from across Asia. It is one of a 
   number of regional events being held in the run-up to the second 
   preparatory meeting for the WSIS conference. The preparatory meeting will 
   take place in Geneva in February.
   
   Utsumi hopes a commitment to work on such a framework will be included in 
   the declaration of principles and action plan that will come out of the 
   WSIS conference, he said. He does not envisage discussion on specific 
   issues taking place at the conference, rather that the event will be a 
   spark for later talks.
   
   "Maybe, for example in the case of taxation, [the action plan will say] 
   let's solve the problem by such and such a date in the discussion of such 
   and such meetings," he said. "I don't know how well the summit will be 
   able to make an action plan. If it is very detailed I will be very happy 
   but if the summit cannot go into detail then it becomes very abstract."
   
   Utsumi is due to repeat his call for work on a legislative framework for 
   cyberspace at a keynote speech to be delivered on Tuesday, according to a 
   draft copy of the speech obtained by IDG News Service.
   
   A draft of the final declaration of the Tokyo conference expresses support 
   for Utsumi's position. It notes the need for governments to create an 
   appropriate legal, regulatory and policy framework "based on due 
   consideration of human rights in areas such as  privacy, security and 
   consumer protection while also maintaining economic incentives and 
   ensuring trust and confidence for business activities." The draft also 
   calls for the creation of a forum for resolution of disputes alongside 
   traditional judicial proceedings.
   
   The draft adds support for intellectual property rights and the need for 
   increased awareness of information  security issues.
   
   The final version of the declaration is expected to be approved on 
   Wednesday as the conference closes after a round of discussion on Tuesday 
   afternoon.
   
   
   Martyn Williams is a Tokyo correspondent for the IDG News Service, an 
   InfoWorld affiliate.
   

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