Controversial Meeting of Nations Could Mean New Internet Regulations

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A group of nations meeting for a 12-day conference in Dubai plans to establish a new agreement on international telecommunications regulations.

The World Conference on International Telecommunications started Monday, and it is sponsored by the International Telecommunication Union. Regulations that the group plans to update were established in 1988. 

This meeting has spurred fears of centralized control of the Internet by the U.N, The Wall Street Journal said, and the conference has been criticized because of unpublished documents and secret proposals involved.

"Internet policy should work like the Internet — open and inclusive," Google posted on its Take Action website. "Governments alone should not determine the future of the Internet. The billions of people around the globe that use the Internet, and the experts that build and maintain it, should be included."

A proposal from Russia and several African nations has become one of the main controversies. The nations suggest that the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, along with other groups that are primarily based in the U.S., should no longer control the Internet.

Another proposal made by India and some countries in Africa and the Middle East involves allowing telecom operators to charge Internet-content companies a premium for internationally transmitting data. They say that this could help telecom companies fund the cost of upgrading networks as data use surges from smartphones capable of streaming video.

Also, a group of 17 Arab nations proposes more government control over Internet regulation and data transfer, the WSJ said, and the group wants all Internet users to be universally identified.

This conference's observers do not expect that major changes to Internet regulations will be made at this meeting, and ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré said that any changes must be agreed upon by all of the countries involved.

The ITU also reversed its initial stance and agreed to publish the conference documents, according to the article.

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