US and Most Western Countries Refuse to Sign ITU Treaty over Internet Control Issues

The document covers telecom, but there has been a push to extend it to the internet

The World Conference on International Telecommunications is over and the results are, well, inconclusive. Several countries did attempt to broaden the reach of the treaty to cover internet issues, but some of the more dangerous proposals have been rejected.

One last attempt at adding words that would cover the internet was met with protests from the US and other countries which in the end did not sign the final version of the document.

The treaty is not binding to countries that don't sign. Normally, the treaty requires consensus, but in the absence of that, it was put to a vote, something the ITU, which organized the conference, said wouldn't happen.

Things had been going well for a while, all resolutions that had to do with the internet were removed, the word internet itself is absent from the final version of the document.

At the last minute though, a paragraph was added to the document stating "These regulations recognise the right of access of member states to international telecommunication services" which some countries, including the US, took as meaning the treaty would cover the internet, despite the actual word not being used.

Iran put the issue and the final version of the document to the vote. It got support from 77 countries, but 33 voted against. The US then said that it wouldn't be signing this version of the document. Canada and the UK joined them.

Several other countries refused to sign the document, Denmark, Australia, Norway, Costa Rica, Serbia, Greece, Finland, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Sweden, the Netherlands, Kenya and many others, mostly Western countries.

Countries that don't sign the new document will be bound to the previous version dating to 1988.

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