Lessons of the 2014 Plenipot

Last month, I was honored to join FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler as part of the U. S. delegation towards the 2014 International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference (Plenipot) held within Busan, South Korea. Since the conference recently concluded, it seems the appropriate time for you to share my thoughts about this experience. Before doing so, however , I must communicate my deep appreciation to the head of the delegation, U. S. Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda of the Department associated with State, the FCC staff, the particular members of the U. S. abordnung, and all dignitaries with whom I used to be able to meet, including the newly-elected Secretary-General of the ITU, Mr. Houlin Zhao of China, and Deputy Secretary-General, Mr. Malcom Johnson of the Uk.

As a member of the abordnung, I attended the official plenary conferences of the conference, which included the elections for various ITU positions plus discussions of various resolutions, and became a member of U. S. -led bilateral conferences with representatives of countries existing at the Plenipot, including Germany plus Chile. I attended meetings using a subset of our delegation to discuss U. S. positions on specific issues (e. g., cybersecurity and Web governance). In addition , I participated in a number of FCC-led bilateral meetings with officials from the regulatory agencies of some other countries, including Pakistan, Lebanon, Ghana, Australia and Guinea-Bissau. These conferences put into perspective the high standing how the FCC has internationally, and I was able to share the Commission’s pro-market method of spectrum auctions, unlicensed spectrum, high speed deployment, and many other issues.

Reports indicate that the 2014 Plenipot was relatively successful in staving off ill-timed or questionable policy proposals, and much credit goes to the particular U. S. delegation for their dedication and dedication. Based on my short time in Busan and now reviewing the conclusion product, here are my key takeaways:

The Internet Is constantly on the Threaten the Status Quo

At the heart of the issues debated in the 2014 Plenipot was the continued advancement the Internet and its remarkable, disruptive abilities. There was noticeable policy tension involving the desire to expand the Internet to all and the impact of the Internet on worldwide economic and political practices. While the countries of the world embrace the advantages that the Internet brings to society plus mankind, some are troubled simply by other changes it can bring.

The concerns some nations have about the Internet are quite solid. In general, they can be put into one of two categories: loss of control and reduction of profits. The decentralized and global nature of the Internet reduces the ability of the government to control the information and encounters of its citizens. In other words, countries that will restrict freedom could be the most affected by it. Moreover, the Internet is rapidly supplanting the traditional telephone as the major source of communications traffic. For some nations that rely on telephone revenues, their solution seems to be based on imposing brand new fees of some sort on the Internet. Most of the proposals on Internet issues put forth in the Plenipot fit into one of these two difficult rationalizations.

Given the benefits of an informed society, the international community would be wise to continue to embrace the Internet rather than trying to limit its gain access to and reach. Additionally , a more forward-thinking approach is that government fees plus regulations are deterrents to customers communicating and optimizing the Internet, and therefore, should be opposed.

The Structure of International Discussion boards Needs Review

While I appreciate the history of the particular ITU and its work, the ITU’s structure—like that of the U. And. —provides each country an equal state in matters before it. That means some member countries, relying on bad information, advocate the fusion associated with existing policies or practices using the complexities inherent in the operations, functionality and architecture of the Internet, which could lead to unintended consequences. This also allows those countries that have questionable ulterior motives to push proposals that will undermine the longstanding principles embedded in the Internet. The U. Ersus. delegation, which included a number of Internet-centric companies, was forced to not only defend the Internet from harmful policies but also clarify how implementing these policies could undermine the foundation of the Internet.

As I left Busan, this appeared that the role of the ITU in some people’s minds was along the way to shifting from the preeminent forum for public telecommunications to what our own Korean hosts lauded as “the preeminent intergovernmental Internet forum. ” The remit of the ITU has been a core discussion point at every global ITU conference, as some nations want to expand the ITU’s achieve to include Internet governance and content material. These continued attempts need consideration, including whether and how best to acquire agreement prior to the start of any kind of international forum discussing Internet matters, particularly those that have international treaty effects, to preclude issues that are outside of the organization’s purview or that may violate certain factors appropriate for international Internet discussions, conventions, or conferences. Whether this really is done via further establishing official U. S. policy along these lines or whether funding for such organizations needs to be examined closely beforehand would seem to be something for Congress to determine, but it may be a necessary discussion to have. Alternatively, perhaps the U. Ersus. should focus on steering certain global discussions to other non-treaty based community forums.

Need to Balance U. S. Domestic Positions with International Positions

The U. S. positions on Internet issues facing the Plenipot had been rather refreshing. It focused on reaffirming our commitment to the free market plus private sector: the guiding principles of the Internet. We rejected better involvement by governments and railed against the desire by some to impose new fees (not unlike access charges) on Internet traffic. We all opposed efforts to impose Traffic tracking, knowing that this was designed to subvert individuals’ freedom. We fought against efforts to inject the ITU straight into Internet content and applications. And we pushed the international community to maintain the ITU’s role over the Internet limited. Basically, our approach was among foiling efforts to inject a greater government role in Internet governance, operations or architecture. Amen!

The only problem is that these excellent stances are not the same ones being espoused by our government within our personal borders, particularly at the FCC. In fact , many within the United States government suggest for policies that would run directly afoul of our international message. Think of the domestic debate over internet neutrality in which some want to enforce common carriage requirements on high speed providers and the desire to regulate the Internet peering marketplace. This is extremely difficult for a number of reasons, not the least may be the lost credibility our positions will have in future international forums. Being labelled hypocrites is a real likelihood if the U. S. continues to favor a single policy at home and another overseas. Worse yet, is the possibility that such regulatory systems and taxing guidelines would be replicated internationally.

Accordingly, the proper course of action is to examine the worthiness of our international positions plus reshape domestic policy to reflect these enlightened views. By synchronizing our positions and embracing those that have allowed the commercial Internet to flourish over the last three decades, we would be rejecting the flawed and misdirected arguments that we oppose internationally, permitting us to retain the intellectually defensible high ground. It would also reinvigorate our Internet entrepreneurs and innovators by allowing them to focus on technology instead of Washington, D. C. bureaucrats.


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