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The Most Important Meeting You've Never Heard of 171

Posted by timothy
from the but-only-if-you-use-the-internet dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In December the nations of the world will gather in Dubai for the UN-convened World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT – pronounced 'wicket'). The topic of the meeting is nothing less than the regulation of the Internet. Under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union the governments of the world will review the international treaty known as the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITR). The last review of the ITR was in 1988 when the Internet was just aborning. The remarkable and reshaping growth of the Internet provides the excuse for the new review. What's really afoot, however, is an effort by some nations to rebalance the Internet in their favor by reinstituting telecom regulatory concepts from the last century." At least it's being held in a hotbed of unfettered online communication.
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The Most Important Meeting You've Never Heard of

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @07:52AM (#41524297)

    All I ever read about is slavery. Is Dubai just a metaphor for "the rich can control everybody else" or is it a real country?

    • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:02AM (#41524399) Homepage Journal

      "A real country"? You mean like for example.. the US? The rich certainly don't control people there!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Honestly I can't stand people who go out of their way to feel like a victim. The rich don't control people in the US. If you feel differently, your victimization is in your head.

        • No, the rich only control the politicians who make laws that control the people. Or are you actually claiming special interest groups and lobbyists don't have any sway in the law making process?

          Guess what? Not everyone who feels like this is a victim, and the rich do not control every aspect of this country. The truth is somewhere in the middle of the two. There are just way to many people lined up at either end of the argument. It isn't as black and white as most people would like to make it seem.

          Also
        • I don't live in the US. I don't feel victimised as I have a decent job and don't really care much about a lot of the political bullshit in the world, but I'm not blind either. As Mister Whirly pointed out, the rich set policy, so historically things gradually head in their direction until everything breaks down and there is revolution.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:03AM (#41524417) Journal

      All I ever read about is slavery. Is Dubai just a metaphor for "the rich can control everybody else" or is it a real country?

      Dubai is an example of the glorious harmony between (middle) east and west! A city that wraps the middle east's robust traditions of rule of law and enlightenment liberalism and the west's values of sober financial honesty in the civic-planning expertise of Vegas developers on PCP... Truly, an example for us all.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Dubai is an artificially constructed where no city naturally arise. The entirety of Dubai is a playground for the ultra-wealthy and infamous. Think of it as the headquarters of The New World Order.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Dubai is not a real country just a state in the Emirates.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Supplies will be limited in December.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hear it is nice. Pretty expensive too. Glad that my tax money is being spent on sending government employees to such an out-of-the-way place. After all, if they don't deserve it, who does?

    • by Copley (726927) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:12AM (#41524507)
      Out of the way for who?! The "nations of the world" are attending, not just the US [I'm guess you're from the US with your rather parochial ways]. Dubai seems pretty central [wikipedia.org] to me.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Why not a map weighted by GDP? Why not a map weighted by number of internet users? Why not a map weighted by bytes per capita? Why not a location that reduces the total amount of travel? I'll bet you're from somewhere that doesn't give a shit about carbon footprint. But since this is a Telecommunications Conference, why don't they try teleconferencing?

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:04AM (#41525119) Homepage

      Glad that my tax money is being spent on sending government employees to such an out-of-the-way place.

      Your gasoline money paid for the place so what's a few airplane tickets?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:03AM (#41524411)

    The internet became what it is and revolutionized human communication precisely because it was not regulated. It was an anarchy, and should remain one.

    • by jythie (914043) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:14AM (#41524527)
      Problem is.. it is not one and never has been. What needs to be figured out over the coming decades is, will the US unilaterally regulate it, or will an international organization do so. Neither is a particularly good option, but I doubt we will have much other choice.
      • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:54AM (#41526663) Journal

        How about the US regulate the servers and routers that are in the US, and other countries regulate those in them?

        • by Rakarra (112805)

          How about the US regulate the servers and routers that are in the US, and other countries regulate those in them?

          But then developing countries wouldn't get as much of the "revenue stream" (whatever that means) of the Internet, and that would be terrible.

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        Neither is really an option. It's not like either the US or the UN could convince China not to censor their network. Tyrannies will always control their national subnets, the only difference is that they now also want control over the Internet of everyone else.

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Er... you must be atlking about the ICANN and the DNS hierarchy. The US have a control over that because until the wikileaks affair they have done a pretty good job at not meddling with it too much. But this is just a small comfort to have a centralized DNS register. If the US begin to "regulate" that too heavily, be sure that several other registers will appear. It will be a bit more messy but it will remain free.
    • by swalve (1980968) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:20AM (#41525315)
      Ridiculous. The content wasn't regulated, but the nuts and bolts are. Things like TCP/IP and routers and shit. You are confusing the roads for the route.
    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:13AM (#41526081) Homepage

      It was an anarchy

      ... created by those well-known anarchists at the US Department of Defense, with funding and public support from that well-known anarchist Al Gore.

      • by JWW (79176) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @11:17AM (#41526945)

        If ever there needed to be proof the legislators NEVER think of unintended consequences of the laws/programs they create, the Internet is it.

        There is NO WAY IN HELL that if they had known what the Internet would become that they would have passed the legislation and funded the programs that spawned it in the way that they did. They would have ensured the regulatory capture first, which would have saved them all this hassle of a rear guard action of trying to achieve it now.

        The Internet's success was probably the most serendipitous accident in human history. Had the lawmakers actually really known exactly what they were doing, I am certain they would not have done it.

        Please note that I am not at all inferring that the engineers and technical experts working at DARPA at the time didn't know exactly what THEY were doing...

        • by Rakarra (112805)

          There is NO WAY IN HELL that if they had known what the Internet would become that they would have passed the legislation and funded the programs that spawned it in the way that they did.

          The Internet grew and blossomed in the way that it did for two reasons:
          1) It was under the radar of most world governments and regulatory agencies.
          2) It was not under the radar for the tech sector.

  • by 3.5 stripes (578410) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:03AM (#41524423)

    I would have said, "in its formative years"..

    That said, thanks for the new word.. it's well cromulous.

    • Re:aborning? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:44AM (#41524873) Homepage Journal

      You know, if you look a word up in the dictionary to see if it's real, slang, or newly coined you look a lot less stupid. Aborning is a real word, "cromulent" was invented in a cartoon making fun of making up words.

      Definition of ABORNING [merriam-webster.com]
      : while being born or produced
      Origin of ABORNING
      1a- + English dialect borning (birth)
      First Known Use: 1916
      2aborningadjective
      Definition of ABORNING
      : being born or produced
      Examples of ABORNING

      First Known Use of ABORNING
      1943
      Related to ABORNING
      Synonyms: nascent, budding, inceptive, inchoate, incipient
      Antonyms: adult, full-blown, full-fledged, mature, ripe, ripened

      • by swalve (1980968)
        Regardless, it's a stupid word that seems to have been used simply because someone's thesaurus suggested it. It's one of those word-salad words you see in power supply reviews, used simply to adhere to the fake rule of not using the same word twice.
        • Re:aborning? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:24AM (#41526241)

          It only seems stupid to you because it looks made up out of the word born.

          There's nothing stupid at all about dusting off a lesser known word and holding it up to see if it should regain some stature.

          • Well is looks like it was made up of a form of the work born actually.

          • by Raenex (947668)

            There's nothing stupid at all about dusting off a lesser known word and holding it up to see if it should regain some stature.

            You should generally write to the level of your audience. However, some people are just infatuated with their knowledge of vocabulary. In this case I would have said, "when the Internet was just beginning".

          • by swalve (1980968)
            Upon further review, I guess it's a matter of opinion whether or not it is a stupid word. But there can be no disagreement that the usage of it in that sentence was stupid and ignorant. It isn't a verb, for christ's sake.
          • by Rakarra (112805)

            But the entire point of language is to communicate your ideas in an understandable manner to whomever your audience is, not to one-up them because you know more obscure words than they do.

            • But the entire point of language is to communicate your ideas in an understandable manner to whomever your audience is,

              That's true but, if you speak to a level slightly above your audience you also improve the ability to communicate in the future by being able to use some more abstract vocabulary terms.

              I think it's better to aim slightly high than to try and write for an imagined lowest common denominator. The audience will get the gist even if they don't quite know a word or two.

              It's not about one-upping,

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          It's one of those word-salad words you see in power supply reviews, used simply to adhere to the fake rule of not using the same word twice.

          Redundancy is boring, which is why that rule is there. Of course, research papers don't have that rule; I read one at work once where the word "enumerate" was used five times in the first paragraph while the word "count" wasn't in the paper a single time.

  • by jbolden (176878) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:05AM (#41524425) Homepage

    I read through the very early draft: http://www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Documents/draft-future-itrs-public.pdf [itu.int]

    It seems like the focus is mainly compensation structure and what obligations exist for telcos passing traffic through. Content provisions are light. For example

    Member States are encouraged:
    a) to adopt national legislation to act against spam;
    b) to cooperate to take actions to counter spam;
    c) to exchange information on national findings/actions to counter spam.

    This is a crucial treaty in the way the public water system is crucial to public welfare. Its existence is a matter of public interest, the details of implementation not so much. Most people want their messages to pass but don't really care how telcos pass expenses around.

    • by jythie (914043) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:16AM (#41524561)
      Yeah, but it dovetails with 'how dare those dang foreigners interfere with the US!' narrative,. so it is getting lots of hyperbolic attention and fear that the US will be under UN control. Exceptional-ism is still a pretty strong meme in the US, and anytime a story comes out that someone other then the US might have power or that the US isn't a unilateral power that can do whatever it wants unquestioned, it gets whipped up into an expletive storm.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Just posting to give your view my support. Sick of all the cock-faced nationalist wankers the US floods Slashdot with when it comes to stories like this.

        The fact that they still to this day claim that somehow the UNSC is relevant to the ITU, or the fact that Russia could somehow enforce global censorship even though this would require their dear USA to support it because the ITU works on consensus only, or the fact that they claim it's full of time/money wasting beauracrats when in fact staffed by the world

        • by jbolden (176878)

          because they don't want to be able to give up their ability to censor international domains at will,whilst simultaneously using censorship as their go-to excuse as to why no one else should run the net

          When has the USA ever censored international domains? We have enough real problems in the world let's not make up fake ones to fight about. The USA has a several hundred year strong history of light censorship, especially political censorship an excellent track record. If I had to trust any single entity

          • by Rakarra (112805)

            When has the USA ever censored international domains?

            .com is an international domain. It may not have started that way, it certainly wasn't originally intended to be that way, but in practice that's what it has ended up becoming.

            So if the US seizes a .com domain for violating US law when the foreign-hosted site has not violated the laws of its own country, that would be censorship of an international domain. It may even be legal censorship under the excuse that those international domains are registered to the US, and that's why there are occasional movements

            • by jbolden (176878)

              So if the US seizes a .com domain for violating US law when the foreign-hosted site has not violated the laws of its own country, that would be censorship of an international domain.

              No it wouldn't. Censorship doesn't become censorship based on the legal status of the information. You can censor illegal and legal information, for example child pornography is censored even though its production is illegal, while simulated child pornography is censored even though its production would otherwise be legal.

              I

        • by Jiro (131519)

          You just contradicted yourself. You said that 1) Russia cannot enforce global censorship because it would require that the US cooperate in doing so, and 2) the US wants to be able to censor international domains at will.

          2 shows that 1 is possible.

      • by jbolden (176878) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:03AM (#41525111) Homepage

        I'm American and yes treaties aren't popular here. Though in all fairness most Americans in almost all their practices live in a world where on most things the US congress is the final authority. There is no American version of Brussels. Further remember that 1/2 of Americans haven't been out of the country, for many Americans their primary view of foreign countries are the stories about how their family fled and images on news programs emphasizing how much the USA is hated globally. So a large percentage of American population are isolationist. I good deal of the US probably wouldn't mind a US internet, that is loosely connected to other nation's networks; like the telephone system rather than a genuinely global system. Which isn't hypocrisy but rather a deeper desire to move away from empire.

        That being said, we also do have foreign policy hawks and then business interests that like US domination rather than US participation.

        • by butlerm (3112)

          There is no American version of Brussels.

          Washington D.C. is the American version of Brussels.

      • by Hentes (2461350) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @12:02PM (#41527629)

        I'm European and I think you are an idiot for bringing nationalism into a debate about the global net. Like it or not, the Internet has become what it is under American control, they developed it and built it up to a thing that fundamentally changed our lives. That's why I trust them much more than the barbarian-dominated UN. America is still the land of the free and one of the most liberal places in the world, and while I don't like it when they try to force that liberalism on the political or economical systems of other countries, that freedom is crucial for the Internet to function. The Internet is a worldwide thing, and national legislation of it is bullshit and would just fracture it into small subnets, ruining its biggest strength. And while I would love if it was led by a global organisation of professionals, that has exactly zero chance. In the current situation most countries only support the treaty because they want to censor the net and want to introduce tariffs on throughgoing traffic. This is a move to give politicians even more control over the net.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The medium is the message: Governments and Industry are at the table and we aren't.

  • Gandolf metaphor (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Gandolf: "No! You must understand... I would use this ring from a desire to do good, but through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine".

  • HO Ho (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:14AM (#41524533)
    Discussing Unfettered communication" in the UAE [thenational.ae] is like discussing celibacy in a brothel.
  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:38AM (#41524809) Journal

    As a non US citizen, I hope this fails completely and the US maintains control.

    As far as I can see, the US can be pretty crap, but they are by far the least worst option. if you think the US is bad look at the free speech protections of every single other country in the world.

    Presumably, this meeting won't actually mean anything unuless America decides to cede control. I don't se why they would actually do that.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by gsgriffin (1195771)

      Wow! A non-US citizen that isn't throwing crap at us every chance you get? Sure, we work hard, make a lot of money and help a lot of struggling nations, clean up after natural disasters, and give far more to charity around the world than any other nations (per person and collectively as a nation). There will no be many that try to turn that around and call us evil and controlling....I just try to imagine what the world would be like if Iran were the most powerful country in the world....how would this con

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Take away that completely, and you will see software and movies and entertainment fade away as they are unable to make money doing it.

        Do it. If people aren't willing to fund their entertainment voluntarily, why should my tax dollars be spent forcing them? If it's not worth it to you to pay money willingly it *should* go away.

        And consider the size of the entertainment industry compared to the computer industry. If we have to choose between general purpose computing, and an entertainment industry, technolog

  • By the pricking of my thumbs,
    Something wicket this way comes.
  • "If you agree to censor blasphemy and other anti-religious screeds, I'll agree to censor psychics, Scientologists, and anti-global warming claims."

    "Ok, but let's also require IDs for Intertube access so -1 Troll downmods will follow people everywhere they go."

    "Deal!"

    Beware the Ides of Peaceful Negotiation.

  • In December the nations of the world will gather in Dubai for the UN-convened World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT – pronounced 'wicket').

    It is pronounced wicked despite the T in the acronym to reflect the evil intentions and ulterior motives of them. And also to pretentiously sound like some organization that is the mortal enemy of some super hero.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:51AM (#41524963)

    To avoid wealthy-elite/government domination of communications, you'll need an open source, wireless mesh internet, sort of like these guys (http://www.shareable.net/blog/afghans-build-open-source-internet-from-trash-0), to create an "underground" internet, perhaps literally (http://www.borderlands.com/newstuff/research/FelixRadio/FelixRadio.htm).

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Yeah, because we'll make a mesh wireless network between the US, Europe and Australia, I don't foresee any problems there. Or even between big cities with a lot of nothing in between. Why reinvent the physical layer? If you got Internet, you can connect to any kind of overlay network, sort of like a global VPN. Or if you've seen Inception, like an Internet inside the Internet. Unless the outlaw that too, but then you're already living in a oppressive regime and got bigger issues than Internet regulation.

      • We may or may not get a mesh or some other kind of network between continents. Gateways of some sort, legal or not, will probably ocur. If you don't understand why the physical layer must be distributed and reinvented, I suggest you think through the implications of dictatorships plus small numbers of easily controlled root servers, powered by a centralized electrical grid.

        And yes, they will try and outlaw that too. In case you haven't noticed, we in the USA are already starting down the oppressive regime p

  • An international "wicket" meeting to regulate the Interwebs. - Wicket Gate? Now all we need are white robots showing up to free their Krikkit masters [wikipedia.org]...
  • hijack the internet connection and start censoring it. speed up the discussion a bit!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    internet will be divided, with different kinds of restrictions from different countries, it's now happening everywhere - in some places it's political, in some it's about copyright and another 'illegal' content, it is happening. It will be like this - from China you can see this part, from Europe this part, from Iran this another part of a used to be global network. We will have to live with it and find a ways around it, and, as a geeks, show the ways to the people. Get used to so called darknets - tor, i2p

  • in business class.

    "In one of the most extreme cases, it [Dubai] reported a man being held after poppy seeds from a bread roll were found on his clothes."

    Dubai wants tourism and convention business, but their draconian drug paranoia makes this aspiration ridiculous. How many of the attendees to this conference will be harassed or even imprisoned I wonder? I know this is old news, but any chance I get I take the opportunity to share this BBC article [bbc.co.uk] concerning Dubai's absurd reactionary jailing of innoce

  • by seawall (549985) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @10:03AM (#41525933)
    OK, many people involved are probably retired or dead by now, but way back in the early eighties there was the ISO networking standard which was to replace TCP/IP and it was HEAVILY pushed by ITU. It had it's charms but man it was heavy.

    "ISO will replace TCP/IP in 5 years" was a real thing. After 10 years the phrase became a joke. Now it isn't even that.

    Ever wondered why the L in LDAP stands for "Lightweight"? It started as a radically simplified version of ISO directory services.

    Almost nobody used ISO (including ITU, which at the time preferred paper over networks internally) but ITU really pushed it over that toy internet thing. They also charged a lot of money to buy the bookshelf-meters of ISO documentation...only available on paper for the most part.

    It is probably completely unfair to the ITU of 2012 but I find myself worried whenever they are mentioned in the same breath as "internet".

    • by dkf (304284)

      "ISO will replace TCP/IP in 5 years" was a real thing. After 10 years the phrase became a joke. Now it isn't even that.

      Assuming you mean OSI, it was in use on UK academic networks in the early '90s. I remember when it was scrapped in favour of IP, and the world became a better place. There are many good things about IP, but the key ones are that it can be implemented on many devices, that it can be routed over many different physical layers, and that it doesn't require all the nodes to know how to route to every other node they might ever want to contact (BGP and DNS are wonderful things, for all their flaws).

    • I was watching the ISO stack for a long time. Marshall Rose was involved with a sample implementation which was big. I seem to remember that the minimum functioning ISO stack was something like 80K back when you were lucky if you had 640K. The possibility of creating embedded systems that included the stack was prohibitively expensive at the time. I remember a time when only one or several vendors had an ISO stack you could license into a product. My attempts to understand it were hampered by the critic
  • What's the new Most Important Meeting I've Never Heard Of?

  • WCIT – pronounced 'wicket'. Wicket as in Wicket Wystri Warrick? - "Starcruiser go CRISH CRISH!" CRISH CRISH as in the internet plummeting to it's doom? I see what they've done here....

  • ...the fact that an organization that has human rights worldwide as core functions is hosting something in a known hotbed of human trafficking and slavery?

    $Deity what a fucking farce.

  • I've never heard of the Bilderberg group or its annual meetings. Honest!

  • 'cause ICANN hasn't done shit - other than find new ways to line their own pockets (while patting themselves on the back) - in a very, very, long time.

Let's organize this thing and take all the fun out of it.

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