No ‘supranational regulatory body’ should govern the Internet, say U.S. officials
The United States will oppose attempts to create a “supranational regulatory body” for the Internet during a planned December 2012 meeting of the International Telecommunications Union, said Larry Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Strickling spoke Jan. 11 at the Brookings Institution.
On the agenda for the United Nations agency’s planned conference in Dubai is a renegotiation of International Telecommunications Regulations (.pdf), a 1988 treaty that governs international interoperability.
Ahead of the meeting, some of the 193 ITU member nations have proposed major changes, including moving oversight “of critical Internet resources into the ITU, including naming and numbering authority,” Strickling said.
“Also, in an effort to establish the ITU as an operational authority on international cybersecurity, some more authoritarian countries have proposed to include cybersecurity and cyber crime provisions into the ITRs” Strickling added.
The proposals stem from an attempt to control the Internet as telephone monopolies once controlled all aspects of the networks within their countries, Strickling said, stating that the United States will “make the case that an Internet guided by the open and inclusive processes.”
The United States supports a framework (.pdf) for Internet governance adopted in December by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as a recommendation for member states that emphasizes the role of “consensus driven technical standards…[agreed to by] multi-stakeholder institutions that govern standards for different layers of Internet components.”
“We must continue to make the case that an Internet guided by the open and inclusive processes as articulated in the OECD policy-making principles,” said Karen Kronbluh, the U.S. ambassador to the OECD, during the Brookings event.
As an example of commitment to multi-stakeholder processes, Strickling cited his agency’s role in expressing concern over an expansion of Internet top level domains by the Internet Corporations for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN began accepting applications for new TLDs on Jan. 12, despite last minute opposition by many concerned that the new domains will require increased spending on defensive TLD and second-level domain names.
“We saw parties that did not like the outcome of that multi-stakeholder process trying to bypass ICANN by seeking unilateral action by the U.S. government to overturn or delay the product of that six-year multi-stakeholder process,” Strickling said. The NTIA, he added, called on ICANN to address those concerns but didn’t prod ICANN into abandoning rollout of the new TLDs.
“When parties ask us to overturn the outcomes of these processes, no matter how well-intentioned the request, they are providing ammunition to other countries who would like to see governments take control of the net,” he added.
– go to the Brookings webpage for the Jan. 11 event (webcast available and partial transcript available)