Google hits out at ITU web proposals

Google has hit out at the regulation of the internet proposed by UN spin-off, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), claiming that the legislation could increase internet censorship.

The ITU conference starts today in Dubai, with government representatives from across the world meeting to discuss web freedom. Ahead of the conference, Google vice president Vint Cerf said that the proposals could stifle creativity on the net, and could give greater powers of censorship to governments across the world.

“The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is convening a conference from December 3-14 to revise a decades-old treaty, in which only governments have a vote,” Cerf said. “Some proposals could allow governments to justify the censorship of legitimate speech, or even cut off Internet access in their countries”.

Computer scientist Cerf, considered one of the founding fathers of the internet, added that a founding principles of creating the web was one of openness.

“This wasn’t merely philosophical; it was also practical,” he said. Our protocols were designed to make the networks of the Internet non-proprietary and interoperable. They avoided “lock-in,” and allowed for contributions from many sources. This openness is why the Internet creates so much value today.” 

Cerf added:  “Because it is borderless and belongs to everyone, it has brought unprecedented freedoms to billions of people worldwide.”

He pointed out in his blog post that there are 1,000 organisations from 160 countries which have also spoken out against curtailing web freedoms.

The ITU contends that new regulations will enable the free flow of information, and not just the richest nations.

In the build up to the event, ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I.Touré said that changes to legislation will help towards a “common goal”, and to “build a Knowledge Society where everyone, whatever their circumstances, can access, use, create and share information.” 

The European Parliament earlier decided with a large majority that member states should oppose the ITU’s proposals at all turns.