UAE joins Russian call for tighter Web control

Coalition proposes content screening, end to US control of Internet addressing

Tags: International Telecommunication UnionUnited Arab Emirates
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UAE joins Russian call for tighter Web control Stalemate looms over how to police the Internet.
By  Stephen McBride Published  December 10, 2012

The UAE has joined a Russia-led coalition in signing a proposal for far-reaching changes to Internet governance, Reuters reported.

Russia and the UAE, along with co-signatories China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Sudan, are using the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) 12-day World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai to call for an end to the US control of Internet addressing and to assert their wish to control Web access more tightly.

The conference was intended to serve as the venue for the signing of a new treaty allowing international communication across boundaries, but the Russia-led group is arguing that the Internet falls into this category.

The US, and its allies among the 193 member nations in the UN-affiliated ITU, fear a stalemate as they continue to oppose the adoption of the Internet into the ITU's remit and insist that only traditional telecommunications technology such as phone lines and wireless infrastructure should be covered by the treaty.

A leaked draft of the Russian proposal espouses "equal rights to manage the Internet including in regard to the allotment, assignment and reclamation of Internet numbering".

The US submitted a counter-proposal, co-signed by Canada, which would restrict the control measures, excluding government and business networks and Internet companies such as Google. It expresses concern over the censoring of content and the end of online anonymity.

But signatories to the Russian proposals say the new powers are necessary to secure networks against cyber crime.

While ITU decisions normally happen by consensus, entrenchment on both sides may necessitate a vote, which could lead to the US-led group being in the minority. Countries may opt out of elements of the new treaty or choose not to sign it.

"The US is not considering walking out of the conference and is still participating as normal," a US spokesman said in an emailed statement, denying an earlier report that the United States could quit the summit, which ends on Friday.

Both the US House of Representatives and the European Union have now voted to ban ITU regulation of the Internet.

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