World Conference on International Telecommunications 2012

Perhaps the hottest topic at present is the 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12), which takes place in Dubai in December. It will revisit the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) that ITU Member States agreed way back in 1988, and which underpin international communications, including the Internet.

A version of the ITRs, with proposals for changes, can be found online. Background briefs and FAQs on the conference are also available.

In recent months the WCIT process has come under scrutiny for its transparency. Here, for example, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell outlined in the Wall Street Journal why he was concerned about the WCIT process, suggesting that it could reduce support for a “multistakeholder” internet. On the other hand, Bill Ray at The Register suggested Commissioner McDowell’s concerns might be over blown.

Meanwhile, Wcitleaks.org, whose founder Jerry Brito explained his reasoning, has been publishing proposal submissions from various ITU Member States. The ITU Secretariat has explained that it does not have the authority to publish these directly, but confirms that all its members are encouraged to disseminate this information to their citizens.

WCIT-12 will cover many topics that could affect such areas as the balance between cybersecurity and the protection of privacy. In this blog we will provide contributions on why these matters are important, and highlight commentators who have interesting things to say about them.

ITU is the neutral forum where the issues for WCIT-12 can be debated, and this blog offers another open space in which to do so.

By Paul Conneally
Head, Communications and Partnership Promotion, ITU

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