World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF) – Client information note

The current working document of the upcoming WTPF (14-16 May 2013), the Secretary General’s Report, calls into question the effectiveness of the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance, opens the door to an expanded role for the ITU in developing Internet policy, and treats a number of other issues that, if opened for broad review, could hamper growth in Internet services and content.

CLIENT INFORMATION NOTE

 

World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF)

on Internet-related public policy matters

The current working document of the upcoming WTPF (14-16 May 2013), the Secretary General’s Report, calls into question the effectiveness of the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance, opens the door to an expanded role for the ITU in developing Internet policy, and treats a number of other issues that, if opened for broad review, could hamper growth in Internet services and content.

BACKGROUND

The first WTPF was a successful, industry-led event that ensured broad acceptance of the policies needed to enable new satellite services, and prevented regulations from emerging around the world in inconsistent, balkanized ways. Participants in the 2013 WTPF may want to consider any potential effect on Internet governance in this light:  the Forum can drive agendas both helpful and harmful.

OUTCOMES

There are two outputs from the WTPF.  The first is the Report of the Secretary General, which provides a backdrop to the second, operative output – several non-binding “Opinions.”  At worst, the Secretary General can use the Opinions to demonstrate that Member States believe the ITU should develop Internet policy.  However, engagement from stakeholders at an early stage can ensure that the final Opinions not only reflect global best practice in Internet governance, but also offer guidance to developing countries (in particular) on how to support the growth of an open and secure Internet.

PROCESS

The ITU has dealt with contributions to the WTPF debate in an uneven manner:  some are directly incorporated into the Report, while others are treated informally, or simply ignored.  One submission that laid out the broad benefits of developing Internet Exchange Points is not addressed by the Report.  By contrast, a Russian proposal that suggests Over the Top services may require the ITU to act as a Quality of Service regulator has received broad play.

OPTIONS FOR NEXT STEPS

Early and sustained input into the preparatory process will help deliver a positive outcome.  It will be important to help stakeholders correct some of the ITU-generated misconceptions around Internet governance in the current Report, and to help organizations and governments that support the multi-stakeholder model to articulate its merits and see them recorded in the emerging texts.  Robust responses to each stage of the preparatory process, and participation in the Group of Experts which will draft the final documents for the WTPF, will go far in helping to convert the Forum into a platform for ensuring growth and light-handed regulation of the Internet.

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