An unexpected new proposal for international regulation of the internet drew warnings over the weekend of a spread of online censorship and left a global conference on the issue on the edge of collapse.
The deep divisions over treatment of the internet came after a group of Arab states put forward a plan late on Friday that would require countries around the world to explicitly regulate internet companies. The proposal, made at a conference in Dubai to agree a new international telecoms treaty, has also won the backing of Russia and China, along with a group of other countries.
The pitch for direct regulation came as an unwelcome surprise to delegations from the US and other countries that have supported the current light system of regulation for the internet.
“The conference has been hijacked by a group of countries that want to extend regulation of the internet,” said one person familiar with the US position. “This is completely unacceptable to the US point of view.”[...]
Tariq al-Awadhi, head of the Arab states delegation, said that it made sense for internet companies to be included in the regulations since this would help force them to work together with network operators.[...]
The call for new regulation could lead to a break-down in the talks, according to people involved in the discussions. The US delegation will refuse to support anything that extends regulation in a way that damages internet freedom and has full backing from Washington to walk out on the talks if necessary, said the person familiar with the US position.
Who would have ever guessed that Russia, China, & the Muslim nations would want to stifle dissent. /sarc