Global Internet Surveillance – all for the protection of copyright?

Global Internet Surveillance – all for the protection of copyright?

In December, the ITU “World Conference on International Telecommunications” was held in Dubai. The ITU (International Telecommunication Union) is a specialized agency of the United Nations, having over 190 states as members. Numerous controversial proposals find their way onto its desk.

Due to pressure from some states, the ITU proposed to decree Deep Packet Inspection for enabling the prosecution of copyright violations and to strengthen copyright itself. Thus, an effective tool for internet censorship would be crafted.

The non-public draft of standard Y.2770 (Requirements for Deep Packet Inspection in Next Generation Networks) has been encouraged by China and further declared  in a document of a Korean standardization organization. It promises that in this way the searching for and discovery of copyright violations could be eased. The ITU-T, the ITU standardization group, has been voting affirmatively for this draft.

WCIT 2012 | CC BY 2.0 | itupictures

Amongst others, Alissa Cooper and Emma Llansó from the Center for Democracy and Technology accuse the UN agency in a blogpost of ignoring the privacy and security of internet users. The ITU-T would have approved of such a technology with no debate, which would enable inquiring about the whole internet traffic of a specific user. Access to e-mails, bank accounts and telephone conversations would be possible with no respect for privacy. Even the investigation of encrypted communication would be enabled.

The standard has been signed by 89 delegations, 55 declined to sign at that time. Many of the declining delegations announced they would consider it “at home” first and then to decide after. It is alarming, that such resolutions made are apparently not seen as problematical at first sight.

A clear signal would be a boycott of the proposal by Germany, as the United States has done. US delegation leader Terry Kramer stated right after the vote, that the United States could not support a standard, which is not strengthening the “Multi Stakeholder Model” (an alliance of interest between economy, administration and science). The current system of internet administration by ICANN and ISOC, both non-governmental organizations, shall be retained and strengthened. The United Kingdom and many European states seconded, not so Germany. A clearer positioning of Germany in this issue had been possible, but seemed not to be in the interest of its current government. Telecommunication law in the federal republic has been intensified and enables the local authorities today to more easily monitor a citizen in Germany.

Through the regulations from the new ITU standard, the step to the transparent citizen would have been made. The hopefully upcoming debate around the standard should be held in interest of every internet user and a resulting boycott would be a clear result.

Featured image: CC BY 2.0 itupictures 
This article was originally written for the Flaschenpost by Guido Herzog.