Public Knowledge Pushes For More ITU Transparency

Joins Other Groups Calling for Greater Transparency

Public knowledge has joined with a number of civil society groups on a letter to ITU Secretary General Dr. Hamadoun Touré asking him to provide more access to the upcoming Plenipotentiary conference in Busan, South Korea, Oct. 20-Nov. 7.

That is a quadrennial conference at which international telecommunications policy is reviewed and set. More broadly, ITU allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits and develops technical standards for network and technological interconnection, with a focus on promoting advance telecom to underserved communities and the developing world.

ITU conferences have become flashpoints for debate over regulation of the internet, specifically a multistakeholder model vs. a push by some countries--China, Russia--for more top-down control.

Public Knowledge and the groups gave ITU credit for changes in past conferences to make them more open, and praised plans to stream some of the proceedings, including plenary sessions, working groups and committee meetings.

But they want more, including opening up the plenary and committee sessions to outside observers like, well, civil society groups not part of national delegations to the conference.

They say ITU is already planning to hold briefings for civil society groups--it already holds briefings for journalists--and encourages that.

"“We encourage the ITU to openly share its documents and procedures with the public," they said. "Opening the Committee Sessions for observers, organizing regular briefings and creating an online public contribution platform to host documents, information and commentary will help organizations inform the public of ITU policies affecting our digital rights.”

Taking a page from the FCC, they also want the group to create an online platform for comment and contributions that could be made part of the official information delegations could take into account when making decisions.

"We believe that wider participation and greater openness are critical to enable all stakeholders to deepen their understanding of the ITU’s mandate and role and constructively engage with the important work the ITU does," they said in the letter.

Other signatories to the letter include Access, The Open Technology Institute, and various international civil society groups.