David GrossFive years ago, U.S. asserted ITU is not just telephone. Ambassador David Gross led U.S. information policy in 2006 when he said “One of the great things about the I.T.U. is it has changed over the years, from telegraph to telephone to Internet. We don’t want a major international institution to become obsolete just because it couldn’t change as the world changes,” to the NY Times. Today, he's a private lawyer leading the charge at WCIT to prevent ITU having any influence over the Internet. He's funded, I believe, by giant Internet companies and articulates their position very effectively.

    "Everyone but the U.S. thinks ICT - Information and communications technology. Only in the U.S. are telecommunications and information kept so separate," Columbia Professor Eli Noam told me several years ago outside a political context. Noam is the world's leading public intellectual in the field. . His opinion is widely shared. Both the BBC and China Daily in recent articles describe ITU as the U.N. agency for the Internet. Matthias Kurth, the German regulator who nearly defeated Touré for ITU Secretary General, agreed in his campaign material the ITU mandate covered the Internet.

    "ITU is the ideal body to organize a worldwide transfer of knowledge and expertise in advanced information and communication technologies. I would initiate, for example, guidelines and principles to enhance the goal of supporting the most cost-efficient technologies for broadband access, in order to boost their worldwide penetration." 

David GrossFive years ago, U.S. asserted ITU is not just telephone. Ambassador David Gross led U.S. information policy in 2006 when he said “One of the great things about the I.T.U. is it has changed over the years, from telegraph to telephone to Internet. We don’t want a major international institution to become obsolete just because it couldn’t change as the world changes,” to the NY Times. Today, he's a private lawyer leading the charge at WCIT to prevent ITU having any influence over the Internet. He's funded, I believe, by giant Internet companies and articulates their position very effectively.

    "Everyone but the U.S. thinks ICT - Information and communications technology. Only in the U.S. are telecommunications and information kept so separate," Columbia Professor Eli Noam told me several years ago outside a political context. Noam is the world's leading public intellectual in the field. . His opinion is widely shared. Both the BBC and China Daily in recent articles describe ITU as the U.N. agency for the Internet. Matthias Kurth, the German regulator who nearly defeated Touré for ITU Secretary General, agreed in his campaign material the ITU mandate covered the Internet.

    "ITU is the ideal body to organize a worldwide transfer of knowledge and expertise in advanced information and communication technologies. I would initiate, for example, guidelines and principles to enhance the goal of supporting the most cost-efficient technologies for broadband access, in order to boost their worldwide penetration." 

     The 2005 World Summit on the Information Society was organized by ITU and strongly supported by the noamU.S. Since then, most of the world accepts the ITU as the U.N. body responsible for the Internet. It defines itself as "The ITU (International Telecommunication Union) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs." The U.N., with deep U.S. involvement, has long led Internet functions from the standards for DSL to security for NGN Internet networks.  

    Gross's belief in 2005 was "Insuring security on the Internet, in electronic communications and in electronic commerce is the third major priority for the United States. "All of this works and is exciting for people as long as people feel that the networks are secure from cyber attacks, secure in terms of their privacy." I agree with today's U.S. position to minimize the U.N. role in security because too many at the U.N. consider protecting governments from their own citizens the main goal of security.

      The U.S. should focus on making wise policies, including avoiding regulation when that's the best way to protect freedom. But it is disingenuous for the U.S. seven years later to pretend the ITU mandate does not cover the Internet and its security.

Here's David Gross' opinions from 2003 

 

03 December 2003

U.S. Outlines Priorities for World Summit on the Information Society

 

Commitment to private sector, rule of law critical for infrastructure development

 

 

 

 

Washington -- The U. S. delegation to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is advocating a strong private sector and rule of law as the critical foundations for development of national information and communication technologies (ICT). Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy, outlined what he called "the three pillars" of the U.S. position in a briefing to reporters December 3.

 

Gross will head the U.S. delegation to the December 10-12 event in Geneva, Switzerland. Presidential Science Advisor Dr. John Marburger will deliver a speech on behalf of the president. The U.N. General Assembly-sanctioned event is set to conclude with multinational agreement on a declaration of principles and a plan of action, documents that participating nations have been negotiating for almost two years.

 

As nations attempt to build a sustainable ICT sector, commitment to the private sector and rule of law must be emphasized, Gross said, "so that countries can attract the necessary private investment to create the infrastructure."

 

A second important pillar of the U.S. position is the need for content creation and intellectual property rights protection in order to inspire ongoing content development.

 

Insuring security on the Internet, in electronic communications and in electronic commerce is the third major priority for the United States. "All of this works and is exciting for people as long as people feel that the networks are secure from cyber attacks, secure in terms of their privacy," Gross said.

 

The U.N. General Assembly endorsed the proposal for a global summit on ICT issues in January 2002. The International Telecommunications Union took the lead in organizing the event in which more than 50 heads of state will participate.

 

"The modern world is undergoing a fundamental transformation as the industrial society that marked the 20th century rapidly gives way to the information society of the 21st century," according to background documents compiled by the WSIS Secretariat (http://www.itu.int/wsis/basic/about.html ). "We are indeed in the midst of a revolution, perhaps the greatest that humanity has ever experienced. To benefit the world community, the successful and continued growth of this new dynamic requires global discussion."

 

WSIS is set to unfold in two stages. After this December 2003 meeting, a second phase of the summit is set for November 2005 when nations will gather again to assess how effectively governments have worked to implement the plan of action.

 

As the Geneva phase of the meeting draws closer, one proposal that is gaining attention would create an international fund to provide increased financial resources to help lesser-developed nations expand their ICT sectors. The "voluntary digital solidarity fund" is a proposal put forth by the president of Senegal, but it is not one that the United States can currently endorse, Gross said.

 

"The goal is undoubtedly, extraordinarily important. What we're in active discussion about is the best method to get there," Gross said. He added that the United States is already engaged in "very active support" programs for countries that are creating solid legal and regulatory environments to nurture ICT development. Introduced earlier this year, President Bush's Digital Freedom Initiative now assists three nations in building greater ICT infrastructure, and will expand to include as many as 12 nations. A program launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development in the mid-1990s has helped bring Internet access to an estimated 2 million Africans.

 

As the negotiations have unfolded, Gross has seen a broad agreement among nations that the WSIS Declaration should speak clearly on freedom of expression. "I'm very optimistic that we will have a strong statement in the document that will affirm the importance of freedom of expression," Gross said. He said the United States has many allies in that position among other nations and among U.N. organizations.

 

Gross said the United States is also achieving broad consensus on the principle that a "culture of cybersecurity" must develop in national ICT policies to continue growth and expansion in this area. He said the last few years have been marked by considerable progress as nations update their laws to address the galloping criminal threats in cyberspace. "There's capacity-building for countries to be able to criminalize those activities that occur within their borders ... and similarly to work internationally to communicate between administrations of law enforcement to track down people who are acting in ways that are unlawful," Gross said.

 

As negotiators meet in the days ahead to resolve these remaining outstanding issues, the U.S. ICT coordinator urges a focus on the larger issues and recognition of the "remarkable change" in world thinking that this summit represents. Even just a few years ago, the Internet and sophisticated information and communication technologies were considered the domain of the elites and academics. Now, Gross said, almost every government recognizes that these technologies are very important to their national development.

 

"It is an extraordinarily powerful and positive development," Gross said. "That's why the summit is so important."

 

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



Mattias Kurth 

ITU is the ideal body to organize a worldwide transfer of knowledge and expertise in advanced information and communication technologies.

I would initiate, for example, guidelines and principles to enhance the goal of supporting the most cost-efficient technologies for broadband access, in order to boost their worldwide penetration.

 

The world needs a good news source on Internet and telecom policy. I hope to create one. Catch a mistake? Email me please.  Dave Burstein

Latest

Professor Noam's "Many Internets" http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Until about 2010, everyone agreed the Net was a "network of networks," not a monolithic entity. There was a central authority, ICANN, keeping track of domain names, but that was a minor administrative function.
Columbia Professor Noam suggests we might be better off accepting that some nations or groups might want to organize their networks differently. It's easy to see demand for an Internet with much more effective filters against material some think harmful to children. (Any 10 year old can easily find porn today. Many do.)
Internet translation is getting better very quickly. You might want an "Internet" that translates everything into your language. Google Chrome translation isn't perfect but I was able to research most of this story on Russian language sites. With a few more years progress, I might welcome an alternate that brings me everything in English, including caching for better performance.
De facto, Internet news is already split, as hundreds of millions only get their news from Facebook. Google AMP pages, including for news, also favor selected parts of the net
Centralizing the DNS doesn't prevent censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. There are many Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists who want to block what they consider blasphemy and limit free speech. See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/nyregion/ultra-orthodox-jews-hold-rally-on-internet-at-citi-field.html . More from Noam http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Russia Orders Alternate Root Internet System http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS
It's actually practical and not necessarily a problem.The Security Council of the Russian Federation, headed by Vladimir Putin, has ordered the "government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions ... This system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa." RT
Columbia University Professor Eli Noam and then ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé have both said such a system is perfectly practical as long as there is robust interconnection.
Actually, the battle over ICANN and domain names is essentially symbolic. Managing the DNS is a relatively insignificant task, more clerical than governing. ICANN Chair Steve Crocker pointed out they had very little to do with policy.
Some will claim this is about blocking free speech but that's rhetoric. Russia doesn't need to fiddle with the DNS for censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. The wonders of the Internet will continue so long as the resulting nets" are robustly connected. The ICANN and U.S. policy goal should be to help create that system for interconnection.
I expect contentions that “The Russians are taking over our Internet” and “They are splitting the Internet.” The Internet is a “Network of Networks.” It is not a monolith so what would “splitting” it mean or do?
After the WCIT, China realized that ICANN and the DNS are side issues not worth bothering about. They have been building alternate institutions including the World Internet Summit in Wuzhan and the BRICs conferences.  The Chinese have put their main work where decisions that matter are made. Wireless standards are set by 3GPP, where nothing can be approved without China's consent.
The American battle at ITU is proving to be a historic mistake.
Why does Russia want an independent Internet?
They fear that Western sanctions on Russia could cripple the Russian Net. Communications minister, Nikolay Nikiforov, worries about, "a scenario where our esteemed partners would suddenly decide to disconnect us from the internet." I think that's highly unlikely but Nikiforov points out, “Recently, Russia is being addressed in a language of unilateral sanctions: first, our credit cards are being cut off; then the European Parliament says that they’ll disconnect us from SWIFT."
It makes sense for the Russians to be prepared for such a contingency as the Cold War has been warming up on both sides. "Britain's top military chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach just made headlines warning Russian subs "could CRIPPLE Britain by cutting undefended undersea internet cables." Much more http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS

ICANN Continues Excluding Russia & China From the Board http://bit.ly/CEOPromises
No wonder Russia wants an alternate root. Three years ago, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé promised "a seat at the table" to Chinese Premier Li. ICANN welched and this year added two more Americans.
Almost all the ICANN board is from the U.S. and close allies; only about 4 of the 18 board members are from countries on the other side of the North/South divide in Internet policy.  Claiming ICANN represents the Global Internet is inappropriate. China is 1/3rd of the Internet but has no representation on the board.
I know many of the board members. They are all basically honorable but generally share a strong opinion on North-South issues.
Larry Strickling of the U.S. government knew just what he was doing with the IANA transition. He handed over to a board with similar positions as the U.S. government.
"The system is unsustainable while it excludes half the world," I have been saying since 2012. More, including the transcript of Fadi's statements,http://bit.ly/CEOPromises

Sorry, Ajit Pai: Smaller Telcos Did Not Reduce Investment After NN Ruling http://bit.ly/SorryPai
Pai justifies his NN choice with the claim, "The impact has been particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers." #wrong (Actually, NN has minimal effects on investment, up or down, I’m convinced. Competition, new technology, customer demand and similar are far more important.)
The two largest suppliers to “smaller ISPs” saw sales go up. Adtran's sales the most recent nine months were $540M, up from $473M the year before. 2016 was $636M, 2015 $600M. Calix the last nine months sold $372M, up from $327M. The full year 2016 was $459M, up from $407M in 2015. Clearfield, a supplier of fiber optic gear, was up 8% in sales in the smaller ISPs.
There is nothing in the data from others that suggests an alternate trend. Anyone could have found this data in a few minutes from the company quarterly reports.
The results in larger companies are ambiguous. I can "prove" capex went up or went down by selecting the right data. The four largest companies' capex - two/thirds of the total - went up from $52.7B in 2015 to $55.7B in 2016. The result remains positive after making sensible adjustments for mergers and acquisitions. That's as close to "proving" that NN led to increased spending as the facts chosen to prove the opposite.
Actually, whether capex went up or down in 2016 tells us almost nothing about the choice on neutrality. Everyone knows a single datapoint could be random or due to other causes. Much more, including the source of the errors http://bit.ly/SorryPai

Elders Bearing Witness: Vint, Timbl, & Many More http://bit.ly/VintTim
Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak and more than a dozen true Internet pioneers wrote Congress to protect Neutrality. The best Congress money can buy didn't listen but I wanted to reproduce their letter.
I hope they are wrong believing "is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create." My take is the impact will be moderate in the short run.
From the letter:
We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. ... The FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.
Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order ... More, including the full list, http://bit.ly/VintTim