December 12, 2012, 8:29 PM —
IDG News Service/Joab Jackson
Work under way to draft new regulations at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai this week could harm the Internet, warned Internet pioneer and Google executive Vint Cerf.
"The Internet is under threat" from proposals at the WCIT, Cerf said at the Usenix LISA (Large Installation System Administration) conference in San Diego on Wednesday.
The Internet is not controlled by any one nation and the best way to deal with issues that arise continues to be through informal agreements among interested parties, he argued. The purpose of the WCIT is to update the agreements guiding the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union (ITU). In keeping these regulations up-to-date, though, it may attempt to extend the reach of ITU over the Internet.
"The natural reaction of any institution that wants to preserve its existence is to reach out for new territory," Cerf said of the ITU.
His comments may have been prescient, coming just hours before a controversy broke out at the conference, with the Internet Society suggesting that new regulations on the Internet may have been added improperly to the regulations.
The WCIT is updating the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), which currently focus mainly on international billing and inter-system connectivity standards. Much of the new work around the Internet, which barely existed when the ITR was last updated in 1988, is hotly politicized. According to a number of reports, Russia was planning to submit a proposal at WCIT that would allow multinational control over the Internet. The U.S. representative for WCIT had threatened to walk out of the meeting as a result.
The Russian proposal was shelved, though other countries have lobbied for wresting control of domain name management from the U.S.-backed Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and for allowing deep packet inspection of Internet traffic.