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.
Back in May, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking public comments and recommendations from stakeholders on its international internet policy priorities. Among other issues, NTIA sought comment on: 1) challenges to the free flow of information online, 2) the multistakeholder approach to internet governance, and 3) privacy and security. Last week, Public Knowledge submitted its comments in response to NTIA’s public notice. If you’re interested in what we had to say, but not so interested in churning through 10 pages of policy analysis, then please enjoy this high-level summary of our comments submission.
This week Public Knowledge’s Director of Global Policy, Gus Rossi, and Development Manager, Katie Watson, traveled to Geneva, Switzerland for the 12th Annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The IGF brings together people from a variety of stakeholder groups, including public interest organizations, government agencies, industry representatives, academics, and others in order to discuss their work and the challenges they each face in creating good internet governance policies. This annual event serves as an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the important work other groups are carrying out, and to share best practices.
Last week, Public Knowledge and the Organization of American States (OAS) organized a joint roundtable on “Cybersecurity and Civil Society in the Americas,” which took place at the OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. Thanks to the support of Open Society Foundations, the roundtable included civil society organizations from all over the Americans: Derechos Digitales, Instituto Brasileiro de Defesa do Consumidor (IDEC), ADC Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), Karisma, TEDIC, Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D), CodingRights, InternetLab, Datos Protegidos, Ipandetec, Hiperderecho, Access Now, New America, and more. It also included the active participation of high-ranking members of the Canadian, American, Colombian, and Guatemalan governments, the Brazilian Armed Forces, and private organizations.
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”.