Toure: Key Treaty Issue Can Be Resolved

Also Won't Tolerate Hackers Denying Speech Freedom They Claim for Themselves
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ITU director general HamadounToure said Friday that he believed the issue of who the WICT 12 telecom treaties apply to--operating agencies or recognized operating agencies--would be resolved by the time the conference in Dubai ends next week. The U.S. has said that is one of the key issues at the conference, which is attempting to revamp/update International Telecommunications Regulations.

"The U.S. position is very clear on that, he told Multichannel News in a press conference from Dubai Friday, "and we understand it." But, speaking like a diplomat, Hamadoun suggested the two sides of the issue were closer than they thought. "There is no real real contradiction with other positions, " he said. "I believe that, as a negotiator, I see things in common. What is happening is that one camp tells you what it wants to see in the document, the other camp is telling yo you what it doesn't want to see. In reality they are saying the same thing. The discussions are ongoing, and we will see what are the issues that may be difficult for each of the two parties, and then we will come to compromises. I am sure this issue will be resolved."

For Kramer's part, he has said that the U.S. is not likely to negotiate on the definition issue because of the "scope creep" of expanding the definition.

"Scope Creep" just about sums up the U.S. concerns about the conference in general. While its members have said they recognize the need to address broadband buildouts and adoption, they fear that will be a lever for some countries--Russia, China, Syria, Arab states--to assert more control over the content and distribution of information over the Internet. That is a nonstarter, and more than that a Walk away from the table" issue for the U.S., Canada and others.

Hamadoun said he planned to meet Monday (Dec. 10) with members of "civil society" (public interest and activist groups) so he could bring their views to the conference. He did not suggest any linkage, but he also said that the conference was prepared for a cyberattack that had been threatened for Saturday.

He said precautions had been taken so that, whatever happened, "the work of the conference will proceed unabated. I will not tolerate extremists who try to deny others the freedom of expression they claim for themselves," he said.