NEWS: Internet freedom and innovation are at risk of being stifled by a new United Nations treaty that aims to bring in more regulation, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt has warned.
In a question-and-answer session at Mobile World Congress 2012 on Tuesday, Schmidt said handing over control of things such as naming and DNS to the UN’s International Telecommunications Union(ITU) would divide the internet, allowing it to be further broken into pieces regulated in different ways.[pullquote_right] Handing over control of things such as naming and DNS to the UN’s International Telecommunications Union(ITU) would divide the internet [/pullquote_right]
“That would be a disaster… To some, the openness and interoperability is one of the greatest achievements of mankind in our lifetime. Do not give that up easily. You will regret it. You will hate it, because all of a sudden all that freedom, all that flexibility, you’ll find it shipped away for one good reason after another,” Schmidt said.
“I cannot be more emphatic. Be very, very careful about moves which seem logical, but have the effect of balkanising the internet,” he added, urging everyone to strongly resist the moves.
International governance of the internet
The ITU, which is part of the United Nations, this week began discussing changes to a 1988 treaty that would bring in international governance of the internet. At the moment, web businesses, technology providers, user groups, engineering groups and others collaborate without such oversight to keep the internet running. …[pullquote_left] “There’s a lot of concern among the internet community about the transfer of control of the internet to the ITU,” —
Schmidt [/pullquote_left] Google, which has crossed swords with regulators in the EUand elsewhere, has been campaigning against more internet regulation for years. Vint Cerf, chief internet evangelist at the web giant, highlighted an online petition against such moves ina blog post in December 2010.
“There’s a lot of concern among the internet community about the transfer of control of the internet to the ITU,” Schmidt said at MWC in Barcelona. “The ITU is a magnificent organisation and has done a great job in telecommunications… but the principles of the way that the web has worked are different.”
“If the current governance is working pretty well — and I think it is — I wouldn’t move it [control of the internet] or if I did I would do it very, very carefully,” he added.
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