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New Intl Telecom Regulations Treaty Drafted
Source: futuregov.asia
Source Date: Friday, December 28, 2012
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, Internet Governance
Created: Jan 08, 2013

A new global telecommunications treaty was agreed to on 13 December, during the World Conference on International Telecommunications 2012 (WCIT-12) convened by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialised agency for ICT, in Dubai.

Attended by nearly 2000 delegates from 193 member states of the ITU, the WCIT-12 was called to review the 24-year-old International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), the current binding treaty to facilitate international interconnection and ensuring efficiency and public usefulness and availability of information and communication services.

The new draft of the treaty sets out general principles for ensuring the free flow of information around the world, and includes new provisions emphasising efforts to assist developing countries and the right to freedom of expression over ICT networks, and promote accessibility of ICT technologies for persons with disabilities.

The treaty also contains a resolution to create a single global number for access to emergency services, and new text mandating greater transparency in the prices set for mobile roaming.

In a statement released at the end of the conference, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary General of the ITU, said, “This treaty contains many gains and achievements including increased transparency in international mobile roaming charges and competition, an extremely important win for consumers.”

“Information and communication technologies can now play a greater role in driving sustainable development, in particular with new Articles that provide recommendations for dealing with the growing scourge of e-waste and promoting greater energy efficiency.”

The treaty, however, has only been signed by 89 nations. Disagreement over provisions granting governments greater control over the internet led to 55 countries either refusing to sign or reserving the right to sign later. USA, UK, Australia and Canada are among the nations refusing to sign.

Opponents object to proposals which would give governments greater powers to control international phone calls and data traffic. Several states also maintain that attempts in the treaty to control spam email can be used by governments to censor content in the name of attacking spam.

The regulations of the new treaty will come into force in January 2015.
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