ISOC is concerned about proposals from ITU member states that deal with such issues as peering arrangements because this could impact the cost of international Internet traffic and how users pay for Internet services. Other proposals could give governments more leeway with regard to censorship and content control or could limit data privacy. Governments could get involved in Internet address allocation, which is currently handled by the regional Internet registries. Another worry is that more regulation by the ITU will result in a slowing of innovation on the Internet.
"The Internet Society believes that decisions made by governments at WCIT could redefine the international regulatory environment for the Internet and telecoms in the 21st century and beyond, impacting how people around the world are able to use the Internet," the group states on its Web site.
ISOC isn't the only group that's concerned about WCIT. The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously in August to send a message to the ITU that the Internet doesn't need additional regulation. The proposal that sparked the ire of the Congress would allow countries to tax incoming and outbound telecommunications traffic and impose Internet traffic termination fees.
Internet pioneers such as Scott Bradner are worried about a proposal that would apply the telephone-oriented concept of the "sender party network pays" to the Internet. Bradner argues that this principle would threaten free content on the Internet by requiring content providers to pay ISPs to deliver data to customers.
With WCIT opening on Dec. 3, the debate surrounding the role that ITU should play in Internet standardization and regulation will likely reach a fevered pitch in the days ahead.
For example, Google made a public announcement in favor of a continued free and open Internet and against what it calls "closed-door meetings" by government regulators at the ITU. Google launched an online pledge that it calls "Take Action" for Internet users to sign in protest of WCIT.