The United States and several of its international allies announced today that they would not sign on to a treaty that would give the United Nations greater control over the Internet. The treaty, which is not legally binding and allows nations to maintain their sovereignty, would help countries coordinate initiatives to fight spam and broaden Internet access.
This new treaty is set to be discussed at the World Conference on International Telecommunications which was organized to revise the old communications treaty.
But in an 11th-hour announcement late Thursday evening, U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer, who serves as head of the U.S. delegation to the conference, categorically said the U.S. will not sign on. When asked, Mr. Kramer said “I do need to say that it is with a heavy heart and a sense of missed opportunities that the U.S. must communicate that it is not able to sign the agreement in the current form”. He continued, “Internet policy should not be determined by member states but by citizens, communities, and broader society, and such consultation from the private sector and civil society is paramount,” Kramer added. “This has not happened here.”
What we need to be concerned about is whether U.S. maintains that the Internet is open and is controlled by those who use it. We hope that these other nations who are looking to sign on to the treaty will see the benefits of an open Internet and liberalized markets. This new treaty is set to take effect in January 2015, and perhaps before then others will realize the importance of independence when it comes to the Internet.