DUBAI – The head of the UN telecommunications body insisted that a treaty to be put to member states for signature on Friday does not concern the Internet, dismissing US concerns about online freedoms.
“This conference is not about the Internet,” International Telecommunication Union chief Hamadoun Toure told a press conference ahead of a signing ceremony in Dubai that Washington has threatened to boycott.
“This conference has no effect on the Internet at all,” Toure insisted, adding that the only text that addresses the Internet is a non-binding resolution on fostering an enabling environment for growth.
Washington warned on Thursday that it would refuse to sign the updated treaty, saying it opened the door to government regulation of the Internet.
But Toure insisted that the treaty gave explicit protection to free speech.
“In the preamble, we have a special article,” he said.
“Member states affirm their commitment to implement these regulations in a manner that respects and upholds their human rights obligations.”
The head of the US delegation Terry Kramer said on Thursday that he could not sign the treaty as currently drafted because it included some language “seeking to insert governmental control over Internet governance.”
“The US has consistently believed and continues to believe that the (UN treaty) should not extend to Internet governance or content,” he added.
US lawmakers had voted unanimously to oppose any efforts to give the United Nations new authority to regulate the Internet, and a variety of Internet activists and US firms, led by Google, had also warned against new regulations.