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ITU to Release Telecom Draft; Some Critics Underwhelmed

7/13/2012 9:31 AM Eastern

The International Telecommunications Union trumpeted their decision on Friday to release a draft document in advance of its upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WICT-12) conference in Dubai.

ITU, an agency of the UN, pointed out that it had debated the issue of publicizing documents and had decided to publish the draft of the main conference "preparatory document," (TD-64) while pointing out that ITU members could share the other documents if they chose to. ITU will also create an online comment page for input on that document.

That is the conference that folks like FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Commissioner Robert McDowell, NTIA Chief Larry Strickling, and the Obama Administration in general are worried could produce ITU-centric Internet governance in service to countries like China and Russia.

Their concern is that those countries, in negotiating a new telecom treaty, could try to graft the telecom model, in which countries charge for international phone connections, to Internet connections as a way to compensate for the decline in those telecom-related revenues in a world of Skype and IP telephony in general.

Groups like Public Knowledge have been calling on ITU to publicize documents related to the conference, but was notably underwhelmed by what ITU called a "landmark" decision to release the single document.

"TD-64 is one compilation of proposals made by various countries," said Rashmi Rangnath, director of PK's Global Knowledge Initiative. "Many other proposals will continue to come in. Also, countries may submit explanations/background documents to the working group mainly responsible for preparations leading up to the WCIT-12." He said his and other groups want to see those additional materials and proposals so they can comment on those as well. He also points out that the draft ITU is posting was already leaked weeks ago. "The ITU is not giving us any new information by releasing TD-64."

Separately this week, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski blasted Russian legislation that would create an Internet blacklist in the name of protecting children from inappropriate content.

September