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Digital rights groups ask ITU to stay out of net neutrality debate

Grant Gross | Oct. 23, 2014
The U.N. agency should resist calls to regulation international termination fees for Web traffic, the groups say.

Concerns about cybersecurity also came up during WCIT, with some nations pushing for the ITU to adopt resolutions that would allow them to take new steps to target Internet users as a way to combat cyberthreats. Critics of those proposals, including the U.S. government, dismissed them as vague attempts to expand censorship.

The digital rights groups, in their recommendations, said attempts at the ITU meeting to develop an international cybersecurity treaty would be "premature." Among ITU member nations, there's a "lack of consensus on key issues," the document said, including a definition of the proper use of force in cyberspace.

Any cybersecurity discussions "should be grounded in human rights principles," the groups wrote.

Anticipating discussion at the ITU conference on counterfeit electronic devices, the groups also said the agency should not take steps toward prohibiting counterfeit devices from connecting to the Internet. Trade controls can better address issues with counterfeiting, they said.

Denying service to users "would be an extremely disproportionate response to the relatively minor network irregularities that may be caused by counterfeit devices," the groups wrote. "Furthermore, it will mostly affect the poorest people, since counterfeit devices are attractive for this group because of their competitive pricing."

An ITU spokeswoman wasn't immediately available to comment on the recommendations.

Among the other groups signing the recommendations were the Center for Democracy and Technology, Movimento Mega, Global Partners Digital and the World Wide Web Foundation.

 

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