8 December 2012

Kenya Will Oppose Internet Regulation

Information PS Bitange Ndemo has called upon stakeholders in the communications industry to oppose a proposed set of new regulations by the International Telecommunications Union.

ITU, a body under the United Nations, is seeking to shift internet governance from the current open multi-stakeholder control and give more control to individual governments.

It has also proposed that content providers should pay telecoms operators for using their infrastructure.

The PS said the proposals will seriously undermine freedom on internet and be very costly to consumers as content providers would pay for use of the networks.

The proposals are being backed by Eastern countries like Russia and China but has received opposition form the west.

"If you allow any government one inch of controlling your freedom, it will take up ten kilometers before you realize. And if you were to regain the freedom, it will never be the ten kilometers you ceded," said the PS.

"The developing world will most be affected as most of the content that we need today is out there. We have not developed enough local content," Ndemo said on Thursday.

In Kenya more than 95 per cent of the content is from outside. if the proposals are passed, the big content providers such as Google, Facebook, Youtube could start charging users to access them.

"These proposals would kill innovation at the time Kenya is being noticed as an innovation hub," he said.

the global internet stakeholders are currently meeting in Dubai in the World Conference on International Telecommunications, expected to vote on the motion by December 12.

However, different stakeholders in Kenya hold different positions on the regulations and it remains to be seen which side the Kenyan delegation will be voting.

"Let us not support the review of the current regulatory framework. As it is often said 'if it ain't broken, do not fix it'" Ndemo said.

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