The forthcoming end of the internet, in the form of the ITU’s conference, is getting underway, so I thought I would have another look at the “Take Action” page on Google’s site in more detail.
Google says: “Some governments are trying to use a closed-door meeting in December to regulate the internet’
“only governments have a voice at the ITU”.
The Guardian today reports that “Four Google representatives, including telecom policy counsel Aparna Sridhar, will attend WCIT as part of a 100-strong US delegation”
Google says “The ITU is also secretive. The treaty conference and proposals are confidential.”
The ITU says “WCIT-12 will not be convened behind closed doors. Governments are encouraged to include both private sector and civil society representatives on their national delegations.”
This would seem to be confirmed by the fact that Google are sending four representatives. The ITU also says
“…membership unanimously accepted the proposal of Dr. Touré, ITU Secretary-General, to make public the main proposals document – a fact that could have easily been verified with ITU. This document is available on ITU’s WCIT-12 website.”
(it’s worth reading that whole blog post).
I’m not making any points at all about the detail of the proposals or the pros or cons of arguments on either side. But the nature of the debate doesn’t seem to be aiming at an honest or open discussion of the facts. On the face of it, Google is making bald assertions which are at odds with reality. They are using these assertions to persuade people to put their names to a petition opposing the ITU proposals.
They might well have important points to make about the issues, but they don’t seem to be making them on their “take action” page. Doesn’t that make their whole petition a little redundant? “Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct [the future of the internet]” they say. But it would seem that’s not what they’re trying to do, not least because they have Google keeping them company.