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Global Activists Oppose ITU As Internet Authority

ITU Resource Center for Advocates

ITU Cybersecurity Proposals Threaten Innovation and Security

Featured on Policy Beta

September 11 - Washington, DC - Kendall Burman will speak at "Trends in Technology," sponsored by Women in Government Relations.

September 18 - Brussels, Belgium - Jim Dempsey will be speaking about the International Telecommunication Union and Internet governance at an event sponsored by the European Internet Foundation.


In December, member states of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will meet to decide whether to extend ITU authority to the Internet. Although the meeting hasn't hit the front pages — or even the tech press — its outcome is of grave importance to the future of the Internet. CDT has been analyzing proposals pending before the ITU, and we are working with partners in industry and civil society to warn of the risks that such a shift in global Internet governance could bring.

Global Activists Oppose ITU As Internet Authority

If the ITU were to expand its authority to cover Internet policy and technical standards, human rights, innovation, and the open Internet could be under threat. The government-dominated structure of the ITU is not suited for making Internet policy, which is best conducted though voluntary, decentralized, and inclusive processes.

CDT has been working with NGOs around the world to discuss the risks of ITU involvement in Internet governance so that those NGOs, in turn, can urge their government delegations to the ITU to reject expansion of its regulatory authority to the Internet. Recently, we jointly drafted a letter addressed to ITU member states calling on them to oppose extending ITU jurisdiction to the Internet. The letter, signed by civil society groups from all regions of the world, also calls on governments to open their preparatory processes so that technical experts, businesses, academics, and human rights advocates may voice their concerns and ideas. The letter remains open for sign-on by any civil society group.

ITU Resource Center for Advocates

To support advocacy efforts around the world, CDT has developed a web-based ITU Resource Center that provides a range of resources on Internet governance and the upcoming ITU conference. The Resource Center includes useful materials for advocates, concerned businesses and other stakeholders: CDT's analyses of proposals to amend the ITU's core treaty on telecommunications; a toolkit with key messages; an ITU timeline; and an ever-growing list of op-eds and expert commentary on the ITU.

ITU Cybersecurity Proposals Threaten Innovation and Security

The issue of cybersecurity offers the perfect object lesson on why the ITU's regulatory authority should not be expanded to include Internet governance. On the one hand, cybersecurity is undeniably a critical issue for the future of telecommunications and indeed for global commerce, development, and human rights. On the other hand, cybersecurity is ill-suited to the kind of centralized, government-dominated policymaking that the ITU represents. A recent CDT paper examines in detail some of the proposals pending before the ITU relating to cybercrime and cybersecurity. As we note, cybersecurity requires agility: Given the pace of technological change, governmental bodies are not likely to be the source of effective technical solutions. Moreover, the cybersecurity issue inevitably leads straight into questions of human rights and governmental power: surveillance, privacy, and free expression. These are not issues the ITU has any expertise in or any ability to assess and balance. The ITU, rather than adopting a regulatory approach, should support security initiatives already underway at other standards bodies, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force.

Reconsidering Location Tracking

CDT joined the ACLU, EFF and EPIC in calling on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear U.S. v. Skinner, the GPS cell phone location tracking case. A panel of the 6th Circuit has ruled that tracking a cell phone's location by requiring the service provider to repeatedly "ping" the phone over a three-day period did not require a warrant. The amicus brief we filed asked the full Sixth Circuit to re-consider this issue in light of the Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Jones.

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