The ITU meet in Dubai this year drew a lot of fire from stakeholders of the Global Internet Industry. The main contention was the policy decisions being discussed behind closed doors so that the ITU could figure out a way to bring the regulation of the web under a UN body. While it is still a matter of debate whether an old organisation like the ITU actually has the right to put such things into place since it was primarily set up to deal with telecommunication across the world, the meet went ahead and the results were pretty much in favor of the open Internet. Countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE and China were in favor of Internet regulation whereas heavyweights like the US, UK, Australia etc refused to sign the proposed treaty.
India too has not signed the proposal yet but there are indications that India was supportive to the proposals to define spam and cyber fraud, which would give the UN body regulatory control over content and Internet operations in the country. Indian Internet stakeholders and professionals are not really happy about this stand and are urging the Government not to accept such proposals that seeks to limit the blooming Internet ecosystem in the country.
Subho Ray, President of Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) spoke about the ITU.
“ITU should only focus on telecom sector and not get into information and communication technology as they have tried to do through the Dubai convention last week.”
The problem with the treaty is that it would lead to UN getting a decision making ability in the commercial agreements between Internet companies dealing in content and traffic. In this situation putting trust completely into a governmental body is not really ideal. What Indian Internet and cellular groups are suggesting is that treaty should have private stakeholders and not just the governmental ones as laws can be misinterpreted by local law authorities.
They are right. The treaty suggests that it will help in curbing spam and cyber fraud but it is giving the UN body regulatory control over content and commercial segments. The beauty of the Internet is that setting up a business on it is really easy. With regulation coming in, it would be far more difficult and will result in a barrier to new businesses. This is a problem when you consider how much growth potential the Internet has in India. Indian stakeholders are suggesting that the Indian Government should only vote on ITU policies and proposals that deal with Telecom and not the Internet.
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