New net rules would hit digital economy: diplomat

Wed Dec 5, 2012 2:50pm EST
 

By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - Inter-governmental regulation of the Internet could deter investment, raise costs for consumers and hinder online access, a U.S. diplomat said on Wednesday.

The United States has been leading efforts to stop a United Nations body from extending its authority into cyberspace.

U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer reiterated his country's "hands off" message at a summit hosted by the International Telecommunication Union that could decide the future of the Internet, at present largely unregulated at a global level.

"We are concerned some of the proposals could create an investment environment that is very tenuous," Kramer told Reuters. "We need to be very mindful that we are not creating new, much greater problems than we are solving."

About 150 countries are gathered to renegotiate an ITU treaty that was last updated in 1988, before the Internet and mobile phones transformed communications.

Western Internet companies and rights groups are fiercely opposed to proposals that would require companies to identify Web users at the demand of national governments, which would make it easier for countries to identify and punish dissidents.

Activists operating under the Internet banner Anonymous said on Wednesday they would organize public protests. A short time later, a denial-of-service attack was launched against the ITU's main website.

Such attacks, in which thousands of computers try to connect to the same site simultaneously, can temporarily overwhelm the target with traffic, though they do not breach security or cause lasting damage.   Continued...