Internet turns U.N. telecoms talks into reality show

Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:19pm EST
 

By Leila Abboud and Matt Smith

PARIS/DUBAI (Reuters) - If the 1,500 delegates huddled into a Dubai conference centre to thrash out a new global telecommunications treaty didn't know how it felt to be on a reality TV show, they do now.

The high-level diplomats and regulators from 150 countries have been criticized, mocked and - just occasionally - lauded by an online commentariat following proceedings at the U.N.'s World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) this week.

Predictably, many of the bloggers and tweeters have taken aim at those seeking to tame the online world, as a battle rages between the United States and its allies, which want no mention of the Internet in regulations, and a Russia-led block which is calling for a more active role for governments.

But there's also criticism of the way the United Nations goes about its business, with a Wikileaks-inspired website -dubbed WCITleaks - spawned to shine a light on what it considers the conference's opaqueness.

Once-confidential preparatory documents filed by countries including Russia, the United States, and Iran were uploaded to the site in the run-up to the conference, and during the talks the working drafts have all been put online for perusal.

And then there's the hilarity sparked by the absurd - like the sight of delegates voting on communications regulations in the digital age by holding up yellow cards to be counted.

"This is truly farcical," tweeted Kieren McCarthy, a writer for .Nxt, an website which covers internet policy.

"There must be a relevant Monty Python sketch for this."   Continued...