RIA Novosti.December 14,2012
US ambassador Terry Kramer, head of the US delegation, attends the final day of the World Conference on International Telecommunication in Dubai on December 14, 2012
The United States along with more than 20 other countries refused to sign a United Nations (UN) treaty on telecommunications and the Internet which was approved by envoys from nearly 90 nations meeting in Dubai on Friday.
It is the first new UN telecommunications treaty since the Internet age, but the US and other Western nations walked out of talks on the proposed rules over concerns about government control of the Internet and censorship, according to media reports.
“The Internet has given the world unimaginable economic and social benefits during these past 24 years- all without UN Regulation,” said Terry Kramer, the US Ambassador to the World Conference of International Telecommunications (WCIT) on Thursday in Dubai.
The new agreement would replace the 1988 UN telecommunications rules and would give countries the right to access international telecommunications services and the ability to block spam, measures the US and other opposing countries maintained would open the door for government crackdowns on cyberspace and control over the Internet.
According to media reports, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia were among the countries that joined the US and refused to sign the pact, objecting to the calls from rival nations requesting all states have equal rights to governing the Internet.
A competing group including China, Russia, and some Arab nations, backed the UN’s stance calling for stronger government control over the Web, insisting “Western dominance” of the Internet needed to be addressed.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN agency that hosted the 12-day conference, said its goal was to create a document to help nations coordinate efforts against spam and widen access to the web.
“The conference was really supposed to be focused on the telecom sector,” Kramer said in a Bloomberg News report. “We feel there have been a bunch of proposals which have come in from the outside to hijack the conference.”
The conference went in the “wrong direction” by opening the door to greater government controls “instead of focusing on promoting innovation and market growth in the telecom space,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Thursday.
The countries that refused to sign the new treaty will continue to be bound by its 24-year-old predecessor, an ITU spokesperson said.