Saturday, February 15, 2014

Internet governance: major challenge for Korea in hosting this year's ITU Plenipotentiary

The ITU Plenipotentiary Conference hosted by Korea this Fall in Busan offers many potential benefits for the host nation.  However, it also poses a number of challenges.  Perhaps the greatest of these will be to reconcile Korea's vote at the December 2012 WCIT meeting in Dubai, which was widely perceived as one against an open and free internet.  While I have not explored this topic in depth, I did note in a January 2013 post that "Perceptions are important, and many observers might have expected that the nation with the world's most advanced and extensive broadband networks would have voted the other way, simply to avoid any confusion about whether it favors a free and open internet."
As reported by ZDNet, the WCIT-12 conference triggered a unanimous vote by the U.S. House of Representatives during the Dubai conference aimed at pushing the U.S. government to fight the United Nations in its bid to control and change the Internet. The EU's upper house, the European Parliament, also voted to oppose the U.N.'s plans to regulate the Internet, prior to the opening of WCIT-12.   Governments were not the only ones to react.  In the weeks leading up to WCIT-12 Google launched a web-based campaign in favor of a free and open internet, one which was joined by other corporations and NGOs.
Although internet governance is not the only issue on the table for the ITU Plenipotentiary, it looms large.  It would appear that the host nation will have to clarify why it voted with China, Russia and the other nations favoring greater government involvement in internet governance.  Fortunately for the Park Geun-hye administration, the vote took place under a prior administration.

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