It was a unanimously 397 to Zero (o) vote in favor of a resolution by the US House of Representatives urging the U.S. government not to give the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Unionj (ITU) control over the Internet. The WCIT conference that started on Monday 3rd ended on December 14.
According to the House’s website, the bill passed by the U.S. Senate in September emphasizes the importance of the Internet to the global economy, saying that “it is essential that the Internet remain stable, secure, and free from government control.“
The house’s adoption of the resolution was intended to send a clear message to the ITU a UN wing not to increase government control over the Internet during the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) that is underway in Dubai. The the adopted bill read that the proposals by the UN body to increase control over the Internet “would undermine“ the current organization of the internet “that has enabled the Internet to flourish “.
This is not the first time the House has urged the Obama administration in Washington to continue promoting a free universal internet devoid of any governmental control. In June, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed another resolution telling the ITU to keep its hands off the Internet. While many stakeholders in the Internet including companies such as Google, organisations and governments are alarmed that the ITU will increase its powers at conference, the ITU has insisted that the worried parties have not understood what the WCIT conference can decide on saying that conference cannot grant the ITU regulatory powers over the Internet, the organization emphasized on Friday, adding that “it seems the message is simply not getting through.”
DotConnectAfrica, a Kenya based non-profit had also opposed such moves and has been at the forefront of campaigning on the multi-stakeholder model for Africa and beyond, saying NO to government regulation and control of internet resources. The DCA President in a commentary “The Empire Fights Back” earlier this year weighed heavily on internet freedom and governance. Bekele also a governance expert in IT and Internet, stated:
“ The battles lines are already drawn…An open, inclusive, participatory, multi-stakeholder Internet goes beyond ordinary ‘Internet governance’, and is really about whether people should be free in a global society.”
The Model that DCA openly support is the Multistakeholder format where everybody has a voice and stake in the governance of the internet, as fact reinforced by Bekele’s open letter to the US Senate, stating
“The Internet itself has proved to be a very useful platform for bringing Africa into the mainstream of global information and communication technology usage, and its gradual and increasing availability is helping Africa to bridge the so-called ‘Digital Divide’.
With the African development of the internet and of course the latest .africa gTLD that has g0ne through a lot of pre-delegation skirmishes that have been dominating blogs about the future of the african domain, should ICANN giving the .africa to African Union equate the same?
Last year in Senegal, in the sidelines of ICANN International meeting, an African Agenda of the Ministerial Round Table took place and DCA had strongly opposed the request by the African Union to ICANN to give it special treatment by reserving the .Africa (DotAfrica) internet domain name and its representations in any other language in the List of Top-Level Domain names; with the added proviso that the African Union would then delegate the .Africa gTLD to a structure that it hoped to identify and select. ICANN’s response later was that it can only delegate the .africa gTLD through the new gTLD program. DCA’s position was that the Africa Agenda was not consensus-driven, lacked multi-stakeholder input and was never approved by ICANN and said that the Africa Agenda actually failed at Dakar.