Access has released a briefing document that provides analysis of the outcomes of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), an overview of its geopolitical context, and a preview of upcoming internet governance debates at the United Nations, which can be found here.
Access viewed the WCIT as a potential challenge to an open internet and a threat to digital rights. However, the actual outcomes were mixed: the most dangerous proposals were not adopted in the final treaty text, but some governments may use vague provisions in the new treaty–the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs)–to legitimize greater regulation of the internet and threaten the exercise of human rights online.
It is important to note that many countries did not sign on to the treaty, however those who did must implement these laws in a way that protects open internet and preserve human rights online. The treaty may also present an opportunity for improving access to international telecommunication for persons with disabilities and landlocked and small island developing countries.
“While the global divide over whether to sign the new ITRs has been characterized as the start of a digital cold war, this line of thinking is neither particularly accurate nor constructive. Many delegations went to Dubai with the priority of securing affordable access to ICTs and do not fit into this false dichotomy. The WCIT did however expose fundamental differences in how the world’s governments view internet governance, which are bound to come up in future debates.”
Access attended the WCIT as an observer on the Swedish delegation. We will continue our work in this realm, to create an enhanced multistakeholder model of internet governance and the defense and extension of global user rights.
For more information on Access’s work around the WCIT, go to our ITU page.