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Sovereign Nations on an Unseen Path at WCIT 2012 to Create a Super-Sovereign ITU

Sivasubramanian M

It puzzles me to watch Governments introducing or subscribing to proposals that would in effect smoothly concede part their sovereignty to the ITU — in an area that is central — Communications.

The WCIT 2012, in the middle of its second week, would now discuss Document DT/51-E 11, which is said to be a "package" of not-yet-compromised draft proposal for revisions to the INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION REGULATIONS, which inevitably makes ITU the control center of all communications in the known Universe.

If a Member State exercises its right ... to suspend international telecommunication services partially or totally, that Member State shall immediately notify the Secretary-General of the suspension and of the subsequent return to normal conditions by the most appropriate means of communication (ARTICLE 7 Suspension of Services 55 7.1).

Member States shall endeavour to ensure that operating agencies* cooperate within the framework of these Regulations to provide by agreement, a wide range of international telecommunication services which should conform, to the greatest extent practicable, to the relevant ITU-T Recommendations (ARTICLE 4 33 4.2)

These clauses appear to indicate a harmless symbolic process, but more such provisions that makes ITU a center of 'coordination' would be inevitable if the ITRs are revised (tranlation: expanded) to the extent fancied.

Some of the Sovereign States at the WCIT go along with wrong proposals that revolve around the proposal to expand ITU's sphere of control, especially to the Internet. So far Governments follow ITU Regulations in Telecommunications, but not related to the Internet. ITU wants total control over ALL communications, and in the ITU process, it is the Government Delegations that propose to expand the very definition of Telecommunications (Article 2):

Any tranmission, emission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems.

Translation: ITU would regulate all communications by wired telephone, mobile and satellite phones, fax, radio, computers, television and other devices; ITU will regulate (and have known and unknown capabilities to control and monitor) all communications by the people of the World, by Business and Governments.

The definition is a preamble for the overall design for the ITU to take over Internet Governance. (Where does all this 'language' come from? ) There is a "Preliminary Draft New Resolution to foster an enabling environment for the greater growth of the Internet" which sounds an alarm, because it presupposes and positions the ITU at the center of the World. The resolution:

invites Member States 1. to elaborate on their respective position on international Internet-related technical, development and public policy issues within the mandate of the ITU at various ITU fora including, inter alia, the World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum, the Broadband Commission and ITU-T and ITU-D Study Groups. 2. to engage with all their stakeholders in this regard. resolves to instruct the Secretary-General 1. to continue to take the necessary steps for ITU to play an active and constructive role in the multi-stakeholder model of the Internet as expressed in ยง 35 of the Tunis Agenda; 2. to support the participation of Member States and all other stakeholders, as applicable, in the activities of the ITU in this regard.

This unambiguously names the ITU as the EpiCenter of Policy pertaining to Global Commnications. How did the ITU manage to achieve such popularity among Governments to be nominated to such an exalted status?

Sovereign Nations have used propaganda effectively to convert citizens of their own countries and that of their enemies

The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses.

Propaganda is for the 'masses'. Yes. But in the recent past, consistently and systematically, the Communications Union has taken it to higher levels, achieved the ultimate mastery of propaganda by actually using propaganda on Government policy makers on themes that appeal to them most. And this formula is obvious:

all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.

Territory, Security, Control over Information; On another level the propaganda is about Child Pornography or spam. The West might find some of these arguments reasonable while the rest of the world finds the arguments against the West compelling. The result is a divided world. Elliot Carver's CMGN (Carver Media Group Network) couldn't have achieved better results on unsuspecting Governments.

Some Governments now believe that the ITU process would lead to a Secure, Controllable communications environment, which would make it possible for Sovereign Governments to filter and monitor the flow of all communications. The underlying idea is to place the ITU or an ITU controlled body in charge.

I wonder if such a body would be like Edger Hoover's FBI, which is sometimes portrayed to have had total and complete control over the very Government that created it, for a quite a long time, a long time ago. Irrespective of whether the myths about the Hoover era are true, irrespective of how an ITU controlled body is fancied, it would be true that controlled communication regulated by secretive ITU processes would result in an eco-system of surveillance in the name of security. I wouldn't be charmed by such proposals and wouldn't propose or vote to create such mechanisms if I were an Elected or Appointed Representative, because no sooner than I concede such a role to the ITU, my own communications (and secrets) would be monitored and controlled by the ITU :-)

By Sivasubramanian M, CEO, Turiya and President, Internet Society India Chennai. Views expressed here are those of the author's only. Sivasubramanian Muthusamy also contributes to the Wealthy World weblog located here.

Related topics: Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Telecom

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