Originally published: December 10, 2012
Last updated: December 10, 2012 - 10:20pm
[Commentary] In an age when global networks are used increasingly for important purposes such as electronic health record-keeping and long-distance education, it is essential that ITU governments continue to say no to tollgates and monitoring of all kinds -- and preserve the open Internet we have had since its inception. The World Conference on International Telecommunications is being held in Dubai to update the treaty that governs how communications networks connect to one another around the world -- regulations that have existed since the 19th century but haven’t been revised since 1988, before the Internet became what it is today.
The outcome of the Dubai meeting, standing alone, is not likely to change the Internet used by people in the US. Congress would have to adopt any treaty amendments before they could be effective in the US. What’s at stake, however, is the free global Internet pathway. If any one country erected a toll system by itself, it would probably lose its connection to the rest of the Web and become an unpopular and isolated island. But if a large group of countries collectively agreed that such toll-taking makes sense, the decision could change the architecture and generative nature of the Internet for everyone.
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