The past two weeks must have been stressful for the US delegates at the ITU conference in Dubai. They, alongside their EU allies, had to convince delegates from every other nation that the ITU should not be expanded to cover the Internet. Their efforts seemed to have worked as China, Russia, and others pulled their resolutions, but those same nations sprung a surprise vote last night that must have shocked those who have been fighting for Internet independence.
Reuters reports that the ITU chairman asked for a last minute vote on whether or not the ITU should take an active role in Internet governance. The majority voted in favor of the resolution, but the chairman noted that he was only looking for a “feel of the room” instead of a binding majority vote.
The resolution in question would keep the majority of the Internet out of the hands of nations that would abuse it. The only compromise left in it would give nations control over addressing, as in they would have the same kind of authority that ICANN currently has.
As for Terry Kramer, head of the US Delegation to the ITU, he’s only tweeted twitter since the non-vote vote. In short, he says that he remains committed to keeping the Internet out of the updated treaty:
Kramer’s intentions are noble, but something has got to give by tomorrow when the conference ends. The vote made it clear that a majority of nations are pushing for more control over the Internet. The compromise would give those nations little power in the whole picture, and some nations like China and Saudia Arabia obviously want more power. They will be pushing for these powers as the US and EU fight back to have the Internet removed from the treaty altogether.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see where the talks go in the last day of the conference. There’s already been rumors of the US walking out on the conference. If that happened, everything would probably fall apart. That’s probably not going to happen, but Kramer and the other US delegates have their work cut out for them if they intend to fight the combined interests of some very powerful nations.
You can check out a full transcript of the vote and the ensuing discussion here.