Leadership (Abuja)

19 January 2013

Nigeria: ITU in Crisis As U.S. Group Leads De-Funding Campaign

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the agency of the United Nations in charge of regulating global telecommunications and internet, is engulfed in a crisis following a campaign by an American group for the United States government to withdraw financial commitments to the ITU as a protest for allowing national governments to control the internet and monitor their citizens.

The group which has been set up to defund the ITU campaign website is asking citizens to sign up the petition and has written to the US Senate and House of Representatives to stop further contributions to the global telecoms regulator, saying in December of 2012, ITU led by member states; China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Venezuela and others, attempted to seize control of the Internet.

The petition initiated by Bill Woodcock on behalf of the group wants the US government to withdraw its 7.7 per cent ($10.95M in 2011) funding to the ITU. If the U.S. government and private sector withdraw their funding from the ITU, its membership revenue will be decreased by 10 per cent. If all of the countries that stood with the Internet against the ITU's attack withdraw their funding, the ITU's membership revenue will be reduced by 74 per cent.

The group said many of our free-market democratic allies led by Germany, France, Spain, and Finland, have already de-funded the ITU. Likewise, right-thinking American companies like IBM, Cingular, Microsoft, Fox, Agilent, Sprint, Harris, Loral, and Xerox, and others, have already withdrawn their private-sector contributions from the ITU.

"This is merely the logical follow-through to the Senate and House resolutions condemning the ITU's attack against the Internet and directing the State Department to combat it. Paying for both sides of a conflict is unsustainable and illogical, and should simply be corrected.

It said those nations opposing internet freedoms are a coalition unified by their view that the freedoms enabled by the internet are a greater danger to their mechanisms of social control than they are a benefit to their economies.

"Their goal was a coup: to overthrow the open and transparent system of internet governance that ensures the internet's freedom and accessibility, and replace it with their own central point of absolute control, through which policies of censorship and repression could be enacted."

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