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The Dubai Conference

The World Conference on International Telecommunications held in Dubai failed to set up the framework for a UN controlled internet. It was not unexpected. A US led group of countries refused to sign a treaty granting governments more authority and thus safeguarded the internet in its present form which is a most unregulated international service. The conference had been held to update the International Telecommunications Regulation (ITR) treaty after a gap of 24 years. It was felt that the UN was after a “power grab” move by expanding the role of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Behind this opposition were Russia, China and the UAE among a few others. The draft treaty presented at the conference appeared extremely vague. Delegates agreed that the ITU should have a more effective role in controlling the internet. However, the refusal of the US and some other countries to sign the draft treaty meant that the status quo would be maintained. The ITU failed to become the implicit global internet regulator. Member states however cannot be prevented from enforcing the old treaty.

The final treaty makes no mention of the internet and its content. But a non-binding provision called upon the ITU chief to “ take the necessary steps for the ITU to play an active and constructive role in the development of the multi-stakeholder model of the internet”. India had in the past favoured the multi—stakeholder approach. Indian delegates at the Dubai conference compared the internet to the solar system and wanted it to be self regulatory. India did not sign the treaty though it supported the ITRs. All said and done, the conference was a move in the campaign for internet governance.

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