ITU Website Hacked

WCIT 12 Conference Work Interrupted; Official Says it Highlights Importance of Cybersecurity

The websites of the ITU were hit by a denial of service attack Wednesday afternoon, conference organizers confirmed, saying that pointed to the importance of cybersecurity, one of the issues on the table at the ITU's WCIT 12 conference in Dubai this week.

The attack, for which hackers claimed responsibility, disrupted the work of the meeting of Working Group 1 of Committee 5, which is focused on economic issues like taxation and tariffs.

Web companies, and the U.S. delegation, are concerned that developing countries will want to charge for Web traffic to compensate for declining revenues from tariffs on traditional telecom traffic exchanges and to help pay for expanding broadband infrastructure.

Asked at a press conference Thursday morning whether it was accurate to say developing nations in Africa were looking to replace those tariffs with broadband taxes, the chairman of Committee 5, Joshua Peprah of Ghana,  said that was not the case. But he also said those countries have to find the revenue to build out broadband infrastructure through taxation or operator investment.

Peprah said he was confident that the conference would come to consensus on the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) the conference is attempting to update. He pointed out that those that were not updated would still be in force as they have been for the past 24 years, saying ones that can be revised will be, and for the others: "We will make comments and move on."

He also said there was a proposal on the table to update them every 8-10 years rather than wait another quarter century, which he suggested did not make since given the speed of digital change.

The U.S. does not want the conference to become an opportunity to expand government control of the Internet, its content or economics. In response to a question fromMultichannel News, Peprah said he shared U.S. delegation member Ambassador Phil Verveer's sentiment that the conference not do anything to affect governance of the Internet. "It has been good as it is," he said. "We just want it to continue."

According to the U.S. delegation, the conference has agreed not to change the definition of telecommunications, which the U.S. feared would have been one way to extend the treaties to web content and service providers. But Peprah said while that is true, work continues on the definition of ICT (information and communications technology), which he said is used almost synonymously with telecommunications.