Russia backs down on proposals to regulate the Internet

Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:19pm EST
 

By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - A Russia-led coalition on Monday withdrew a proposal to give governments new powers over the Internet, a plan opposed by Western countries in talks on a new global telecom treaty.

Negotiations on the treaty mark the most sustained effort so far by governments from around the world to agree on how - or whether - to regulate cyberspace.

The United States, Europe, Canada and other advocates of a hands-off approach to Internet regulation want to limit the new treaty's scope to telecom companies.

But Russia, China and many Arab states, which want greater governmental control, have been pushing to expand the treaty beyond traditional telecom operators.

Representatives from about 150 countries - members of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) - have been negotiating for the past eight days in Dubai on the new treaty, which was last revised in 1988, before the advent of the World Wide Web.

The Russia-led proposal could have allowed countries to block some Internet locations and take control of the allocation of Internet addresses currently overseen by ICANN, a self-governing organization under contract to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

An ITU spokesman said this plan had now been scrapped.

"It looks like the Russians and Chinese overplayed their hand," said American cyber security expert Jim Lewis of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.   Continued...

 
Customers use computers at an internet cafe in Sao Paulo March 3, 2011. REUTERS/Nacho Doce