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NZ rejects international teleco treaty changes

17 Dec 2012

New Zealand has rejected a push to bring the internet under stronger state control, Communications and Information Technology minister Amy Adams has announced.

Joining a number of other OECD states, Kiwis declined to sign the revised International Telecommunications Regulations at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai.

The Regulations are a treaty-level text established through the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), setting the rules for connecting telecommunications networks across the world.

Many of the proposals put forward would broaden the role of the ITU according to Adams, including stronger state control of the internet, and control of content, spam, and cyber security.

“The Government considers that the proposed changes are unhelpful, unwarranted, and represent a significant threat to innovation and free and open debate that the internet fosters,” she says.

“The way the internet has developed and evolved to where it is now is due to a multi-stakeholder approach to internet governance.

"This approach takes into account the views of business, civil society, and the academic and technical communities as well as those of governments.”

Adams says the government however does support the use of regulations to assist countries in the development, management, and maintenance of the global telecommunications network.

“At the Dubai conference, we supported improvements to the Regulations to bring greater pricing information to mobile roaming users, and special measures to help small island developing states to connect to international fibre networks," she says.

"We did not agree with proposals that would broaden the role of the ITU.

“An open and rapidly evolving internet is an important driver of economic growth and innovation.

“The current multi-stakeholder approach to managing the internet has been broadly effective in the face of the growth of the internet and telecommunications industry changes over the past 20 years.

“The ITU has a role in supporting the expansion of telecommunications infrastructure, and improving access to this infrastructure for developing countries.

"But telecommunications infrastructure and the data that travels over it are two different matters, and the existing governance systems work well.”

As New Zealand has declined to adopt the revised Regulations, the 1988 Regulations will continue to apply across the country.

“The 1988 Regulations are high-level, and have enabled telecommunications services and the internet to develop effectively without formalised international arrangements," Adams says.