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Google, Diplomacy, and the Internet

Two of the above words are quite a pair. Another one, not so much. But for the last week or so all three have been thrown around in the media quite a lot. And for good reason.

Yesterday marked another chapter in the story of internet reform within 2012. The International Telecommunication Union, a special agency of the UN, is hosting a major conference for the next two weeks to discuss the current state of International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), which act as a global treaty covering all sorts of rules about international telecommunications.

Now the ITRs aren't anything particularly new; they have actually been around for nearly 25 years. But that is the problem. They are old. And as a result, a lot of countries have been pushing to update the rules to better reflect the technological landscape of today. The problem though is that the scope of that change would do more than just update regulations on telephones and fax machines, it would include additions to regulate the Internet as well.

Luckily for those hoping to keep the Internet open and unregulated, a few people (including a founding father of the internet) have begun creating a bit of an uproar over the discussions going on in Dubai right now. Some are upset, not just about the prospect of regulating the Internet, but about the fact that it is being conducted away from the direct influence and feedback of the users themselves. Unsurprisingly, two strong opponents of including the Internet into the ITRs are the United States Government and Google; with Google going so far as to start an open petition against it. The US has been hard at work too, trying to get the conference to drop the discussion of including the Internet into the regulations. So far though, neither entity has been very successful.

 But are the changes really a bad thing? Does this conference really threaten the way people can use the Internet? And if so, how? I will be posting within the next week to discuss the progress of the conference and to dive further into the structure of the UN, the updated regulations in question, and other proposed items of discussion being held this week regarding telecommunications and the internet as a whole.

As I predicted in my post at the beginning of 2012, Internet reform was (and still is) one of the two major topics to follow this year. And it's still just beginning to ramp up.

Come back for more details and insight on this and more. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

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