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Question of the Day
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) - The chief American delegate at a U.N. conference weighing possible Internet rules says the U.S. may snub the final document over proposals interpreted as giving governments greater oversight over the Web.
Ambassador Terry Kramer says references that governments have a right to control the Internet are unacceptable. He told delegates Thursday that the U.S. will not sign the final treaty unless revisions are made.
A Western bloc led by the U.S. has strongly resisted any U.N. telecoms rules on the Internet, fearing it could be used to justify further limits on cyberspace.
The final document at the U.N.'s International Telecommunications Union will reach delegates Friday.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
A U.N. conference weighing possible Internet rules shifted into a high-stakes showdown on Thursday after advancing a proposal for greater government oversight. The proposal was a blow to U.S.-led efforts to keep new regulations from touching the Net.
The move frames the ideological divide at the 193-nation gathering in Dubai, which is scheduled to wrap up Friday with its first revisions of global telecom rules since 1988 _ years before the dawn of the Internet age.
A Western bloc led by a powerhouse U.S. delegation seeks to block any U.N. rules on cyberspace, fearing they could squeeze Web commerce and open the door for more restrictions and monitoring by authoritarian regimes.
They appeared to win a critical preliminary battle early Thursday when the meeting’s chairman declared consensus on a proposal for a more “active” government role in Internet dealings. There was no formal vote, but Mohammed Nasser al-Ghanim said he based his decision on “the temperature of the room” following marathon negotiations.
That brought an immediate backlash from the U.S. and its backers, which questioned the procedure and vowed to keep any new Internet rules from the final treaty by the U.N.'s International Telecommunications Union, or ITU.
The group _ formed in the 1860s when the telegraph ushered in instant communications _ has no powers to instantly change how the Internet operates. It also cannot compel reforms by states that already widely censor cyberspace.
But the U.S.-led coalition at the talks argues that any U.N. codes sanctioning greater government roles in the Net _ even under the framework of state security _ could be used as justification for even more controls from Web watchers in places such China, Iran and other nations.
The host United Arab Emirates announced stricter Internet laws last month that outlaw postings such as insulting rulers or calling for protests.
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