The Internet has historically largely run in an open and cooperative fashion, speaking very broadly of course. The implication being that it has largely been unregulated in an international sense, and not subject to the recommendations and policies fostered by formal nation State-level organizations such as the ITU-T, which is a specialized agency of the UN. Historically, various forms of telegraph and voice communications (radio and wireline) have been subject to this, but the Internet is a fundamentally different beast.
Various actors are apparently presently maneuvering in a Pynchonian attempt to not-so-subtly add language to the ITU-T’s International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) — which are up for review and revision in Dec 2012 at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) — such that the Internet either explicitly or implicitly falls under the purview if the ITRs, thus the ITU-T.
Of course this is all extremely complicated, infested with swarms of acronyms, and has implications for how Internet governance policies and technical standards development plays out in the longer term. Thus it has implications for how the Internet evolves as a platform for international communication and commerce — for individuals, businesses, organizations, governments, you-name-it.
Others are paying direct attention to these developments and are blogging extensively about it. A modest selection is:
- The Internet Society’s WCIT information source
- My colleague Bill Smith (see his posts at CircleID)
- WCITleaks.org — a source for actual speeches, documents, and reports that are floating about in the ITU-T and elsewhere.
- The Internet Governance Project
There’s more sources out there, but hopefully that will provide you gentle readers with good starting points.