H.E. Mr Philip L. VERVEER
Ambassador, United States Coordinator,
International Communications and Information Policy, United States Department of State
It is an honor being here in historic and beautiful Guadalajara and in Mexico. On behalf of the United States, I bring the greetings and best wishes of President Obama to all of the delegates and others gathered for this important conference.
On behalf of the United States delegation, I congratulate the International Telecommunication Union and our Mexican hosts for the very considerable logistical achievement of bringing the world together for this Plenipotentiary.
As we begin our deliberations it is worth reflecting that we have much to celebrate and even more to accomplish. We are addressing a sector of undoubted economic and social vibrancy. It has enjoyed continuous—even outstanding—growth since the last Plenipotentiary even as the broader world economy has suffered. Digital technology, broadband transmission, and cellular architecture have combined to bring revolutionary improvements to the majority of the world’s people.
But not all. And this important background fact provides this conference with one of its principal priorities. We must find ways to configure ITU activities and policies in a way that reaches those who haven’t yet received the full benefits of information and communications technology just as we must find ways to enable ICT’s continuing progressiveness.
Much of the effort here in Guadalajara should be devoted to seeking ways to enhance the ITU’s excellent contributions to efficient and widely developed telecommunications services and infrastructure—to improving things that it does best: harmonizing radio frequency allocations, developing and disseminating best practices, and contributing to capacity building.
The United States has identified three matters that warrant special mention in this regard.
First, the ITU should be a place where the development of the Internet is fostered. The Internet has progressed and evolved in a remarkably successful way under the existing multi-stakeholder arrangements. Changes, especially changes involving inter-governmental controls, are likely to impair the dynamism of the Internet—something we all have an interest in avoiding.
Second, the ITU’s interest in cybersecurity should continue to focus on capacity building and the associated development and dissemination of best practices. This is an area where an enormous amount remains to be done, and where improvements will prove very valuable to all ITU members, regardless of the state of their digital development. We believe very strongly that the ITU should not be distracted from this important responsibility by straying into areas outside of its mandate and expertise such as cybercrime and cyberwar.
Third, looking forward to the 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications, it would be a serious mistake to seek to extend the International Telecommunications Regulations to today’s world of broadband and the Internet. There is a superficial similarity between the narrowband for which the ITRs were configured and the broadband of today, but it is only superficial. Just as with the Internet, inter-governmental controls over broadband are likely to do much more harm than good.
In conclusion, we are pleased to be here in Guadalajara to discuss the important opportunities and challenges that confront all of us. On behalf of the delegation of the United States, I wish you all a very successful conference.