news Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has revealed he is leading a team to a key telecommunications conference being held in Dubai this week at which the International Telecommunications Union is attempting to seek greater control over the operation of the Internet.
The ITU is an agency of the United Nations which is responsible for technology. It is usually best known for its work setting international telecommunications and technology standards, although it also oversees other areas such as the administration of satellite orbits and so on. It is currently seeking to bring more administration of the Internet under its wing, taking power away from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a US non-profit corporation.
In a statement released this morning, Conroy said he was attending the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), where the ITU would make its case for greater control over the Internet. The conference will consider amendments to the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs). The ITRs assist in the operation of telecommunications networks across national borders. Some of the amendments are seeking to extend the ITRs to cover internet governance.
At present, this is the job of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN), which has input from industry stakeholders, governments and the public. “ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model has played a significant role in the success of the internet, and is essential for ensuring that the internet remains a central point for innovation and a driver of economic growth,” Conroy said this morning.
“Australia wants to make sure that any amendments to the ITRs do not undermine this model or fundamentally change the way the internet operates. Australia does not believe a case has been made for change. Australia’s position is that the ITU should continue to focus on developing technical telecommunications standards that deal with the interoperability of public networks and capacity building, and that ICANN should continue to oversee the global Domain Name System.”
“There appears to be little value in either organisation seeking to encroach on the responsibilities of the other.
“Given the increasing importance of communications networks in our day-to-day lives, governments should continue to play a role in developing and protecting this vital infrastructure from harm – either from deliberate attacks or natural disasters. Nations should work together to develop coordinated and flexible ways to respond to significant service disruptions.”
During the Minister’s attendance at the conference he will formally meet the heads of other delegations and hold bilateral meetings with a range of countries to seek their support for Australia’s position.
With his abandonment of Labor’s controversial Internet filter, his promotion of the NBN and now taking a global role to help ensure the stability of the Internet (including blocking moves for more government control of the Internet), it’s hard to make an argument right now that Communications Minister Stephen Conroy isn’t doing a great job. Building great telecommunications infrastructure, fighting control and censorship of the Internet, and now kicking ass and taking names in Dubai. What’s not to like about Stephen Conroy right now?
Oh, right, he won’t answer questions about the new, more limited Interpol filter which Australia is getting. Well, still not too shabby, by my count.