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Internet Governance 3 November 2014

Plenipot Update: A Good Direction!

By Sally WentworthManaging Director, Incoming CEO

It’s the 11th official day of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, and, following a long weekend of negotiations, things appear to be moving in a good direction. [if we count weekend work, then I think I’ve lost track of the days!].

As I wrote last week, much of the work moved into ad hoc groups or drafting groups in order to enable some of the thornier issues to be discussed and negotiated. The main Internet Resolutions were allocated to a rather large ad hoc group that, according to the Chairman from Italy, met for over 40 hours last week! It’s fair to say that by Saturday evening, the key Resolutions were covered in [square brackets]! But, delegates worked hard to find common ground and, slowly but surely, managed to address the most controversial issues.

Sam Dickinson has been doing some great reporting on the meeting and rather than duplicate her work, I’d point you to a summary of the weekend’s discussions and suggest that you follow her on Twitter: @sgdickinson.

As it stands right now, we are cautiously optimistic that the Conference will not adopt new Internet Resolutions and that changes to the existing Resolutions are largely in line with the ITU’s core mandate. Following lengthy discussions on the cybersecurity front, it appears that the most troubling proposals that would have given the ITU a role with regards to privacy, surveillance and data protection issues will not be accepted. Also of note, the suggestion by the RCC that the ITU explore becoming an Internet Registry was not adopted.

And with a bit of drama (as these things go), the ad hoc group did not accept the so-called “Indian proposal” (which essentially called for a redesign of the network) once many countries, including New Zealand, expressed deep concerns about both its principles and implementation. You can read New Zealand’s statement here.

That’s not to say it’s been an easy discussion. The reluctance to acknowledge the work by the Internet technical community or to reference the importance of the multistakeholder model is discouraging. Having said that, the debate has made progress and we can see that more countries are taking steps to recognize the collaborative nature of Internet development.

For the remaining days, the last few issues will be worked out in the smaller groups and then all the work will go back into Plenary for final approval. The Conference still needs to address the important issue of the definition of ICT (a key issue for the scope of ITU work) and as well as a few important lingering economic issues. Also, the issue of access to ITU documents and access to the ITU Council Working Group on Internet issues remains unresolved – the decisions here will be key to whether or not the concerns about transparency and inclusiveness in ITU processes are addressed by PP-14. So, more work to be done!

Four more days to go [but who’s counting?]!

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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