Legal News | Internet Controls On Verge Of Change

As international governments are set to agree a new information and communications treaty early next month, Euro MPs have warned that the United Nations should not be allowed to take control of the internet.

At the moment, internet control lies mainly with US-based groups, such as Icann, which regulates the web address system, but the European parliaments has sad that the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is “not the appropriate body” to take the authority.

However, the ITU has argued that a new treaty is needed to ensure a free flow of information around the world, as the last time the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITR) were changed was in 1988.

But critics, including the European Parliament, have urged member states to reject any changes to the ITR that would “negatively impact the internet, its architecture, operations, content and security, business relations, internet governance and the free flow of information online”.

Some MPs and business leaders are concerned that the negotiation process surrounding the new treaty is being conducted behind closed doors and are fearful that some governments could use the treaty to censor free speech or even allow them to cut off internet access altogether.

Internet giant Google has started a petition for internet users in which it suggests that some proposals in the treaty could limit access to information, particularly in emerging markets, and would require internet service providers to pay new tolls to reach people across borders. It is also concerned that only governments have voice at the ITU and not companies or other internet stakeholders.

However, ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Toure has insisted that if there is resistance to any of the proposals in the treaty from a country, then the measures will not pass.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London