The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is a United Nations (UN) agency originally created in 1865 to manage cross-national telegraphic communications, and is increasingly seen by its member states as the technology policy branch of the UN system. While to date it is formally responsible only for telecommunications issues, in recent years the ITU has hosted a global summit on Artificial Intelligence (AI), organized a workshop on e-payments and 5G, held a forum on the Internet of Things and Smart Cities, studied the economic impact of the so-called Over-The-Top (OTT) internet services such as WhatsApp or YouTube, developed a global cybersecurity index, and analyzed privacy in cloud computing. That, on top of ITU’s fundamental mandate and ongoing work to help connect the hundreds of millions who are still unconnected.
Over the past several years, the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency specializing in information and communication technologies, has been discussing new ways to regulate internet services and applications. These apps include favorites like Skype, Signal, Line, Telegram, and Vimeo -- essentially most popular “over-the-top” (OTT) and streaming applications. These discussions will have serious consequences for both how you use the internet and your internet freedom. How we govern streaming services closely affects how we govern the internet itself. Expect this transformative internet governance conversation to escalate in the ITU and other arenas as we approach the ITU’s 2018 Plenipotentiary Conference, or “Plenipot”.
The 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15), which Public Knowledge has been closely monitoring, officially commenced this week in Geneva, Switzerland. Throughout the month of November, the decisions to govern our communications via airwaves – such as mobile broadband and public disaster radio communications – will be written into an international treaty called the Radio Regulations (RRs).
The World Radio Conference (WRC) is approaching and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is at the center of our attention. Once again, the future of how countries share a very essential resource – spectrum – is a core agenda topic for negotiations.