Your Internet Freedom at Risk

Dec 14, 2012

The 24-year-old U.N. telecom rules were updated today, but not without controversy. At one point the U.S., U.K., Canada, and other nations went so far as to walk out on the talks and ultimately refused to sign the treaty over concerns about expanded UN authorities over the Internet.

The approved treaty expands the scope of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an agency of the UN, over the Internet. The Chamber voiced its support of the U.S. government’s refusal to sign the treaty. While there are still years before the treaty would take effect, Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer David Chavern said in a statement that the treaty as written revealed the “apparent desire of some governments to create political cover for curtailing the expression of political speech and dissent.” 

The ramifications of this action are very real. Parmy Olson of Forbes wrote about one hypothetical: “Imagine if during the Arab spring, Tunisian and Egyptian protestors had not been able to reveal what was happening on the streets through social media, or if other countries had found themselves obliged by UN agreements to block their content because it was ‘spam.’”

The US Chamber recognizes the desire to promote sound Internet policies and maximize broadband penetration. But as we covered previously, expanding the treaty’s scope to cover the Internet risks restricting the free flow of information, increasing the cost of doing business online, and undermining the jobs supported by online commerce, not to mention inhibiting one of the greatest resources for innovation in history.

Do you support the U.S. decision to reject the treaty? Share your thoughts in the comments.


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