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Cybersecurity and the International Telecommunication Union

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 9:18 AM

As close readers of Lawfare will be aware (but many others will not) the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will be meeting next month in Dubai.  The ITU, a relative backwater of the UN, has long had ministerial responsibilities for telecommunications law (things like setting frequencies and assigning country codes).  In recent months, however, the ITU, with strong backing from non-Western states has begun efforts to assert a role in managing the Internet — a role currently filled by NGOs.  Some see this move as beneficial — the internationalization of Internet governance.  Others (me included) are more skeptical of given the UN a role in managing the Internet.

I’ll have more to say on the subject in the coming weeks, but I wanted to start the discussion by calling your attention to a new paper by the Center for Democracy and Technology, whose title gives some indication of its conclusions: Security Proposals to the ITU Could Create More Problems, Not Solutions  From the Introduction:

Member States of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) are considering this year
whether to extend the ITUʼs regulatory authority to the Internet. Several proposals have been
made to revise the ITUʼs basic treaty to include provisions addressing the security of networks
or information. These proposals have rightly raised controversy not only because of their
implications for Internet freedom, but also because of concerns that ITU intervention could
distract from or undermine other ongoing efforts by institutions better suited to address Internet

The entire paper is well worth reading.