Controversy erupts at WCIT over resolution on Internet

The Internet Society raised an alarm over the ITU meeting amending and passing an Internet resolution

The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) apparently has placed a resolution on the Internet in the regulations being developed at the meeting, drawing accusations that it acted improperly.

At the close of the Wednesday sessions of WCIT, which continued into the night and concluded early Thursday morning in Dubai, the chairman of the conference apparently turned an informal process into a vote, according to the Internet Society.

Adopting a resolution on the Internet violated assurances that the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) being developed at WCIT wouldn't be about the Internet, said the non-governmental group, which advocates equal access to the Internet. It wasn't immediately clear what the resolution stated.

The U.S., the European Union and some other countries have opposed bringing the Internet under the ITRs, and this has been one of the key issues at WCIT. The treaty being developed at the meeting has to be signed by Friday.

"What was first termed as getting a 'temperature of the room' by the Chairman of the conference turned into an apparent 'vote' to include an Internet Resolution in the ITRs," The Internet Society said. That action "resulted in much confusion among the delegates," the group said.

The Internet Society expressed concern that language about competition, liberalization, free flow of information and independent regulation largely had been removed from the text of the treaty.

"Additionally, and contrary to assurances that this treaty is not about the Internet, the conference appears to have adopted, by majority, a resolution on the Internet," the Society said in a statement. "Amendments were apparently made to the text but were not published prior to agreement. This is clearly a disappointing development and we hope that tomorrow brings an opportunity for reconsideration of this approach."

Several commenters on Twitter also voiced concern about the decision-making process, some calling it a "vote/non-vote."

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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