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News & Press: Feature

Who Will Control the Internet after December 2012?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Christine Leja, CCP, CEO, Le Com Enterprises, Inc.

The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) will meet in Dubai this December. The 193 member states (countries) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations agency, will decide whether to impose new regulations on the Internet and effectively transition management from a peer system to a centralized UN system.

Today, the ITU functions as a bottom-up organization taking suggestions from its members and adapting its service and standards based on the international treaty last amended in 1988. Many IT professionals are familiar with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force). ICANN provides domain names, IP addresses, etc. and IETF establishes standards based on input.

Internet Today

The Internet is expected to have over 2.27 billion users by the end of 2012. The Internet is no longer a luxury but an integral part of business transactions and communications. It is projected by The Infographics Showcase that over 75% of the world's population will have Internet access by the end of 2012(1). Businesses use the Internet for marketing, sales, business transactions, and network infrastructure that may be local, national or international. Consumers use social networking, Internet browsing, videoconferencing, etc. to stay connected globally.

IT professionals see the growth of cloud services that in many cases are global services that provide direct access to information, conduct business transactions, or backup business or personal data. Corporate names that we as consumers are familiar include Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Yahoo!, Hulu, Netflix, etc. use distributed computing platforms that cross countries.(2). Consumers are becoming quite comfortable with online purchases, online payments, online banking, etc.

The Internet's Future

What happens if each country has its own control over Internet access? What happens to innovation if the UN controls standards? What happens if countries can assess a fee for Internet use? Perhaps these questions are premature given that only a draft copy of the proposed changes is available for comment via the International Telecommunications Union Press Release(3) in preparation of the December (3-14) 2012 meeting in Dubai. Yet, some businesses are taking these proposals seriously. Even the U.S. House of Representatives passed unanimously the vote against the ITU plan and said the Internet does not need new international regulations(4). But the U.S. is only one country or one state as defined in the draft copy.


The United Nations World Conference for International Telecommunications Regulations will have delegates from 193 countries/states to vote on the updated 1988 treaty. Countries such as Russia, China, Brazil, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc.(5) would like to have governmental security control over the Internet. The European Trade Organization (ETNO) representing European carriers has presented a proposal that includes the possibility of "sender party pays” which could dramatically change the economics of the Internet per U.S. Ambassador David Gross(6).

Possible actions under the proposed draft include:

  • Nations have the right to cut off the Internet if there is a danger to country/state security

  • Each country/state reserves the right to suspend international telecommunications service either generally or for certain relations

  • Countries/states may make special arrangements with operating agencies or other organizations to meet specialized international telecommunications needs within and/or between the territories of the member countries/states concerned

Scenarios surrounding these possible actions create concerns about one universal open Internet service. Could the two billion plus Internet users be subject to government tracking? Could organizations like Anonymous and Wikileaks ramp up efforts to obtain private information? Would virus and identity theft resolution be slowed as incidents move between countries/states rather than one peer system?


A sign of preparation for these changes can be seen in investment reports like the Oxford Club(7) where cyber security stocks are projected to climb from the increased need for Internet users, both businesses and consumers, to protect themselves.

If cloud services continue to grow as projected and parallel the electricity industry transition from everyone having their own electrical services to having a centralized service provider, will the Internet become a government managed business, too? Will an open, universal peer system be taken over by politics? Will an open communications environment be closed and dependent on government "business”? Will "Big Brother Is Watching” in the form of countries/states of the UN become the norm globally? Will the ability to communicate from one individual in one country to another individual in another country to hear directly their words be monitored? Will the cost of business escalate as businesses seek to protect their privacy and their customers' privacy?

Will Users Respond?

The meeting Dubai may be a very important one for the future of globally open communications. What can we as individuals do? There is the ability to respond with our comments to the published draft. How many of us across the globe will take the time to send our comments? Remember the old saying: "United we stand; divided we fall.” Please take the time to have your voice heard.


Submitted by: Christine Leja, CDP/CCP, CEO, Le Com Enterprises, Inc.


  1. The Infographics Showcase:

  2. The Oxford Club's Lifetime Fellowship Report: "The Battle to Rule the Internet”, August 1, 2012

  3. International Telecommunication Union Press Release, August 15, 2012,

  4. PCWorld, August 16, 2012, (click here)

  5. Digital Trends, August 9, 2012, Interview: US Ambassador David Gross explains UN ‘takeover' of the Internet,

  6. Digital Trends, August 9, 2012,

  7. The Oxford Club's Lifetime Fellowship Report: "The Battle to Rule the Internet”, August 1, 2012

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