Friday, April 8, 2005


The U.N.'s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) wants a say in Internet policy. Can you imagine the headaches of dealing with such a bureaucracy? And how much other nations will try to leverage the ITU for their economic and political benefit? Such as China who constantly monitors and regulates their citizens' Internet usage, and now a representative from their nation, Houlin Zhao (director of the ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau), is spearheading this effort for more power and influence. Hell no!

The International Telecommunication Union is one of the most venerable of bureaucracies. Created in 1865 to facilitate telegraph transmissions, its mandate has expanded to include radio and telephone communications.

But the ITU enjoys virtually no influence over the Internet. That remains the province of specialized organizations such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN; the Internet Engineering Task Force; the World Wide Web Consortium; and regional address registries.

The ITU, a United Nations agency, would like to change that. "The whole world is looking for a better solution for Internet governance, unwilling to maintain the current situation," Houlin Zhao, director of the ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said last year. Zhao, a former government official in China's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, has been in his current job since 1999.

Though Zhao is far too diplomatic to state it directly, the ITU's increasing interest in the Internet could presage a power struggle between ITU, ICANN, and perhaps even the U.S. government, which retains some oversight authority over ICANN and appears content with the current structure.

In a series of speeches over the last year, Zhao has suggested that the ITU could become involved in everything from security and spam to managing how Internet Protocol addresses are assigned. The ITU also is looking into some aspects of voice over Internet Protocol--VoIP--communications, another potential area for expansion.
(full article)

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