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Internet Governance 27 February 2012

Internet Society comment to WCIT Preparations: February 2012

The Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world. Since 1992, ISOC has served as a global clearinghouse for technically sound, unbiased information about the Internet, as an educator, and as a focal point for a broad based community of interest engaged in Internet-related initiatives around the world. It provides the organizational home for the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF).

As a Sector Member of the ITU Telecommunication Standards and Telecommunication Development Sectors, ISOC respectfully submits this contribution to the ITU Council Working Group preparatory meeting for the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) for its consideration and action. The Internet Society believes that WCIT is a very important Conference and we look forward to participating actively in the preparations, consistent with the process set forth by the 2010 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Resolution 171.

The global communications environment has changed significantly since the 1988 World Administrative Telegraphy and Telephone Conference that crafted the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs). Since 1988, people around the world have come to interact and communicate in fundamentally different ways as a result of those changes. In particular, the Internet has grown from being a little known research project to become a major force in the world’s economic and political systems, as well as in how people live, work and play in their daily lives. With over 2 billion users worldwide, the Internet still has huge capacity for growth and users have tremendous opportunities today to leverage the technology to develop game-changing innovations that could equally radically change the communications landscape. In economic terms, a recent report from McKinsey noted that the modern Internet is integral to GDP growth, economic modernization, and job creation, generating over 10 percent of GDP growth in the past 15 years in the countries studied. 1

ITU Resolution 171 (Guadalajara, 2010) notes that “advances in technology have resulted in an increased use of IP-enabled infrastructure and IP-based services and applications presenting both opportunities and challenges for Member States and Sector Members” and that it may be necessary to update the ITRs in light of these changes. While the ITU Membership is still in the midst of preparations for the WCIT, the Internet Society has noted a number of draft treaty proposals that could have impacts for the Internet. In general, the Internet Society has grave concerns about the impact of some of these proposals upon the continued growth and innovation of the Internet.

The Internet is different from the traditional telecommunication systems governed by the ITRs. This difference must be understood and respected if the Internet’s benefits are ever to reach all of the world’s people.

The Internet is characterized by several essential properties that make it what it is today – a global, unified network of networks that is constantly evolving, that has provided enormous benefits, that enables extraordinary innovation, and whose robustness is based on a tradition of open standards, community collaboration and consensus. Those properties are analyzed and described in detail in Annex 1 “What really matters about the Internet,” which is offered to provide an overall context for this contribution. As the Internet grew and flourished, Internet policy development at the global, regional, and national level have continued to evolve to work harmoniously with the Internet to assure its ongoing development. This process has provided the capacity to cope with the necessary and fast paced technological evolution that has characterized the Internet to date. We do not yet know where this innovation will take us.

The Internet Society contributes to the ITU WCIT preparatory process with the hope that the results of the WCIT itself will enable the continuing growth and innovation that is the future of global communications. In this contribution, the Internet Society offers its views on specific proposals found in CWG-WCIT12/TD-43. We respectfully request ITU Member States’ careful consideration of this contribution and hope that the key points will be included in the deliberations leading up to and during the WCIT. The Internet Society will update these proposals with further contributions, consistent with the process set forth in Resolution 171 as Member States continue their work to prepare for the 2012 WCIT.

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Note:
1 McKinsey Global Institute. The Internet Matters: The Net’s Sweeping Impact on Growth, Jobs and Prosperity. May, 2011

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