US criticizes Arab states' insistence on Internet regulation

Featured - December 10th, 2012

A global summit is on the brink of collapse as nations struggle to agree on how the Internet should be governed following a new proposal that could threaten Internet freedom.

A group of Arab states, backed by Russia and China, put forward a plan on Friday that would require countries to “explicitly regulate Internet companies” and bring the Internet under the control of the International Telecommunications Union, reports the Financial Times reports.

Tariq al-Awadhi, head of the Arab states delegation at the World Conference on International Telecommunications, claimed it was necessary for Internet companies to be included in the regulations.

Russia has been “keen on pursuing the idea of establishing international control over the Internet,” while China said the web was a “global structure” and should be included in the International Telecom Regulations, The Hindu reports.

The US and its allies opposed the proposal, saying that it would threaten Internet freedom. The inclusion of the Internet in the ITU “would extend international legitimacy to repressive regimes that want to limit Internet communications” and will make it easier “for countries to cooperate on censorship and other restrictive practices,” the US argued.

“We are going to sit together, and maybe we can come to a solution,” Mr. Awadhi said, expecting the treaty to be completed by Friday. “Maybe the US has misunderstood our intentions, so we can explain and hear from their side why they have fear from this one, and we can maybe change our wording”.