CIPPIC joins International Coalition in Objecting to Secret WCIT Governance Process

| May 18, 2012

CIPPIC has joined an international coalition of civil society organizations including the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF), the Internet Governance Project (IGP) and European Digital Rights (EDRi) in a letter of protest (Spanish version) sent to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The letter protests the secrecy and exclusivity surrounding its preparations for the World Conference on International Communications (WCIT). Slated for negotiation during WCIT-12 is a potential re-envisioning of the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITR), an international treaty that currently governs traditional telephone communications amongst the numerous countries who have signed on to it. While the current ITRs are limited in scope primarily to telephone systems, the renegotiated text (which will be up for discussion and adoption at WCIT-12) is rumoured to weigh in heavily on several aspects of Internet governance.

We say 'rumoured' because all the preparatory documents for WCIT-12 are sealed and civil society has been excluded from the discussions. This is because the current ITU framework does not allow for open participation. Further, the ITU's business model (which is premised on the dubious concept of selling access to documents and decision-makers to corporate associates at prohibitive rates) is a significant barrier to civil society participation. While this ITU approach to policy-making may be workable for regulation of telephone lines, it is antithetical to the distributed, multi-stakeholder governance model that has made the Internet the engine for innovation and freedom that it is today. The letter calls on the ITU to reverse its exclusive approach to policy-making, to open the WCIT-12 preparatory documents up to public debate and to ensure that all stakeholders, including civil society, the technical community, governments, and corporate interests are able to participate on equal footing.

Sadly, in spite of past commitments at the World Summit on the Iformation Society (WSIS), it is unlikely that the ITU will change its long standing approaches and pay more than lip service to multi-stakeholder princples. This continue to jeopardize both the balanced nature of its future Internet related policy outcomes, and its ongoing legitimacy as an Internet governance organization in much the same way that other recent efforts at one-handed Internet policy-making have experienced (ACTA, SOPA).