UN's ITU should be dismantled, former White House official says

The U.N. telecom regulatory body has outlived its usefulness and is a tool for repressive regimes, former deputy CTO says

By , IDG News Service |  Internet

Terry Kramer, head of the U.S. delegation to WCIT, said he doesn't agree with McLauglin. The ITU performs several valuable functions, including helping telecom and Internet services grow in developing countries, he said.

"I don't think per se the ITU is the problem," he said. "The more fundamental issue is, why are some of the nations putting out the [WCIT] proposals they are?"

The problem with dismantling the ITU is that many nations see other governance organizations, such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), as too closely tied to the U.S. government, said Milton Mueller, a professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies and an author of books on Internet governance.

Other countries may see U.S. opposition to the ITU as driven by a loss of influence that the government and large U.S. companies have over other Internet bodies, he said.

Alternate organizations such as ICANN face similar criticisms about transparency and centralized decision-making, Mueller said.

In addition, criticisms of surveillance and repression from the U.S. ring hollow when government agencies there engage in similar practices, he said. Concerns about surveillance is a "strange charge to come from in the land of warrantless wiretaps," Mueller said. "Who do we really fear, in terms of communications surveillance, more, the ITU ... or the FBI?"

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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