We've been talking about the ITU's upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) for a while now, and it's no longer "upcoming."
Imagine that. The telecom industry wants to get its hands on the internet. Yeah, these are the folks who thought charging both ends of a data connection was a good idea. I'm sure that nothing bad could come of this. Really.
The US, the EU and now Australia have all come out strongly against the ITU's efforts to undermine the existing internet setup to favor authoritarian countries or state-controlled (or formerly state-controlled) telcos who want money for internet things they had nothing to do with...
Having the US, EU and Australia against these things is good, but the ITU works on a one-vote-per-country system, and plenty of other countries see this as a way to exert more control over the internet, in part to divert funds from elsewhere into their own coffers.
No, really? Do ya think? Let's see. From the quoted article:
"There have been proposals that have suggested that the ITU should enter the internet governance business," said Terry Kramer, the US's ambassador to Wcit, last week.
"There have been active recommendations that there be an invasive approach of governments in managing the internet, in managing the content that goes via the internet, what people are looking at, what they're saying.
"These fundamentally violate everything that we believe in in terms of democracy and opportunities for individuals, and we're going to vigorously oppose any proposals of that nature."
He added that he was specifically concerned by a proposal by Russia which said member states should have "equal rights to manage the internet" - a move he suggested would open the door to more censorship.Ooooookay. Central control, monitoring, and censorship. Pitched as a positive. Gotcha. Because history has shown us that this is such a good idea...
This would see firms face charges if they wanted to ensure streamed video and other quality-critical content download without the risk of problems such as jerky images.
No, this doesn't sound at all like some sort of government-sponsored protection racket. "Nice stream you have here. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it."
One of the other concerns raised is that the conference could result in popular websites having to pay a fee to send data along telecom operators' networks...
So that existing telecommunications companies can make more money. Gotcha.
Etno says a new business model is needed to provide service providers with the "incentive to invest in network infrastructure".
In other words, "We hate the idea of investing even an iota of our current profits into keeping our business afloat. We'd rather have you force people to give us more money to do the things that we should already be doing."
So, hey. What do the technical folks say?
Vint Cerf - the computer scientist who co-designed some of the internet's core underlying protocols and who now acts as Google's chief internet evangelist - has been even more vocal, penning a series of op-ed columns.
"A state-controlled system of regulation is not only unnecessary, it would almost invariably raise costs and prices and interfere with the rapid and organic growth of the internet we have seen since its commercial emergence in the 1990s," he wrote for CNN.
Oh, please, Vint. Why, sure, you're a technical guy. I'm sure they admire that, really they do. After all, if it wasn't for folks like you, the ITU wouldn't have the internet to try and
exploit develop as a new profit source, after all! You've got to understand, though - when it comes to business and politics, why, these folks are just so much smarter than you are!
Any minute now, I'm sure that the ITU will explain that it just wants to bend the cost curve down... and that you're a racist if you don't see it their way.
Oh, sucks! No need to wait! They're already laying that groundwork:
"The brutal truth is that the internet remains largely [the] rich world's privilege, " said Dr Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the UN's International Telecommunications Union, ahead of the meeting.
Support the ITU, citizen. They know so much better than you do, you racist, capitalist pig.