- Obama military downsizing leaves U.S. too weak to counter global threats, panel finds
- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
Web access battles brew before UN conference
Question of the Day
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) - An upcoming U.N. gathering about Internet oversight is raising alarms from a broad coalition of critics, including the U.S., tech giants such as Google and rights groups, concerned that changes could lead to greater efforts to censor Web content and stifle innovation in cyberspace.
Among the issues on the agenda at next month’s meeting in Dubai are ideas to battle Internet spam and fraud. But also tucked into more than 1,300 proposals are potential hot-button items that opponents believe could be used by in places such as Iran and China to justify their crackdowns on bloggers and other Web restrictions.
Another likely battle when the meeting begins Dec. 3 is over European-backed suggestions to change the pay structure of the Web to force content providers _ such as Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and others _ to kick in an extra fee to reach users across borders.
It’s unclear what proposals will emerge from the 11-day meeting of the U.N.’s 193-nation International Telecommunications Union, or ITU. The preliminary jockeying highlights the tensions of the Internet age between what to regulate and what to leave alone. The outcome could affect billions of Internet users.
Some are unhappy with the structure of the conference itself.
“Engineers, companies and people that build and use the Web have no vote,” said Google in an online statement. “The billions of people around the globe that use the Internet, the experts that build and maintain it, should be included” in the decision-making process.
Others warn of dangers.
Simply opening the door to greater controls by the ITU raises concern among activists and others. They worry that countries with tightly controlled cyberspace such as China, Iran and Gulf Arab states will push for additions to the ITU’s treaty _ such as national security monitoring _ that could be used to give legitimacy both to their current efforts to monitor and restrict the Web and to possible future clampdowns.
“We can expect an Internet totally different to today’s open and global system,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, representing 175 million workers worldwide.
“Repressive governments will have a U.N. treaty which allows them to control freedom of expression, to monitor everything any targeted individual is saying on the Net, and to stop social movements and human rights defenders demanding respect for basic rights,” she cautioned.
The host United Arab Emirates, for example, sharply tightened Internet laws this month to give authorities wide powers to bring charges for offenses such as insulting the rulers or trying to organize street protests.
The ITU’s secretary-general, Hamadoun Toure, said in a May speech in Canada that he expected “a light-touch regulatory approach to emerge.”
The ITU says it has no interest in governing the Internet or restricting expression, but notes that it must update its communications treaty to incorporate the dramatic technological changes that have occurred since the last revisions in 1988. That was before the Internet in the public domain.
Among the topics to be discussed in Dubai: Internet security, combating fraud, preventing mobile phone “bill shock” with roaming charges and efforts to expand broadband infrastructures in developing countries.
“For every proposal, there is a counterproposal,” said ITU spokeswoman Sarah Parkes.
TWT Video Picks
Both parties recognize the Democrats' scam
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers in search of Bush-era information
- Islamic militants seize Benghazi as U.S. evacuates Libya
- 'Big Bang' star Mayim Bialik helps send bulletproof vests to IDF
- 3 African leaders cancel trip to U.S. over Ebola outbreak; Obama still plans summit
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world