AfICTA comments on ITRs

Chronological Thread 
  • From: <jolufuye@xxx>
  • To: <wcit-public@xxx>
  • Subject: AfICTA comments on ITRs
  • Date: Sat, 3 Nov 2012 15:25:56 -0700

Africa ICT Alliance – AfICTA, thanks ITU for the opportunity to submit this contribution.
The 2005 WSIS Tunis Agenda paragraph 34-35, 70-80 set the course for evolving policy matters pertaining to the Internet. The Agenda made it clear that policy matters pertaining to the Internet should be approached through enhanced cooperation among all relevant stakeholders and organizations and an inclusive multi-stakeholder platform called the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) with all stakeholders on equal footing playing their respective roles. Stakeholders in this regard are governments, the business community, the civil society, academia and the Internet technical community. The IGF now in its 7th annual gathering has already enriched discussions and understanding of the issues around IG, and motivated enhanced cooperation among relevant stakeholders.
As the review of the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) comes up in Dubai on December 3-14; it is the view of the Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA) that the governance structure of specialized UN organizations, including  the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) are not sufficiently inclusive of all stakeholders to decide the future of the Internet vis-a-vis how it is governed and how the behaviour of users and players are governed, and regulated.
There are many challenges in the proposed changes to the existing ITU Treaty on International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs). These proposed changes cannot be considered without full understanding of associated implications.
AfiCTA posits that proposed amendments in the ITRs are inconsistent with the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Human Rights Council positions affirming that governments have a duty to protect freedom of _expression_ online in the same ways that they do offline. Proposed limitations on the right to freedom of _expression_ in the name of national security are at variance with Article 19 of the International Human Rights Standards. This provision has the potential to hinder innovation which is a key and fundamental aspect of the growth and benefit of the Internet.
While the issue of cybersecurity is very serious and important, it is the view of AfICTA that addressing ramifications of cybersecurity is better handled in a fluid and dynamic organisational structure which can readily respond to rapidly changing face of cybersecurity. In this wise, multi-stakeholder organisations already addressing the cybersecurity challenges are better suited to continue the process.  Rather than adding new language to a Telecommunications Treaty, AfiCTA notes that all parties – business, technical, civil society – and IGOs, like the ITU, should work in a more collaborative mode on addressing training and capacity building, at local and national levels.
AfICTA finally posits that the pursuit of enhanced cooperation among and within existing IG organisations is a more laudable part to IG than an enhanced treaty that is not in conformity with the established principles set by the Tunis Agenda for articulating public policy issues pertaining to the Internet.
About Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA)
Africa Information & Communication Technologies Alliance (AfICTA) is a private sector led alliance of ICT Associations, multi-national corporations, organisations and institutions in the ICT sector in Africa.
AfICTA members include ICT industry associations, organisations and companies in Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Tunisia, Nigeria, the Gambia, Rwanda, Namibia and Somalia.
Jimson Olufuye PhD
Chair, Africa ICT Alliance - AfICTA