The EU is now set to fight for internet freedoms, voicing its concerns that the ITU plans to restrict the international flow of data despite the way the body keeps denying any such intent.
Yesterday the ITU adopted a resolution asking member states not to impede international internet use, specifically calling for "non-discriminatory access", but that's not enough for the EU which has put out a statement condemning proposals which seek to give governments more control over the internet.
The ITU's resolution, numbered 69, calls for "Member States to refrain from taking any unilateral and/or discriminatory actions that could impede another Member State from accessing public Internet sites" and provides a mechanism for members to complain to the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau if they believe such discrimination is in effect.
But that's done little to silence the calls from the US, and now (Reuters tells us) the entire EU, for the ITU to leave the internet well alone on the basis that it's working fine right now and should be left in piece.
The problem, as those paying attention will already know, is that governments routinely control citizens' access to the internet, and will continue to do so regardless of what the ITU decides. The US has protected free speech, but in the UK (for example) the Internet Watch Foundation circulates a list of foreign sites to be blocked by ISPs - not all ISPa play along, Zen Internet being a notable holdout, but the majority of the UK population is happily using a censored internet.
China blocks content in a big way, but countries are (and have always been) free to control information within their own borders. The ITU would like to put that on a more formal footing, despite the fact that it has no power to mandate anyone to do anything: but those complaining are desperate to keep things just as they are, with controlling governments maintaining control while more-liberal societies leave it to the multinational corporations to decide what should be allowed.
This week WICT12 starts, in Dubai, allowing open discussion by everyone with the notable exception of Google (unlike Apple, Microsoft and 600 other companies, Google has decided against joining the ITU). The meeting will run for two weeks, after which the ITU won't have grabbed control of the internet and Google, the US Government and now the EU can all claim a huge victory for freedom of the internets. ®