Today, the European Parliament passed a resolution that condemns the upcoming attempt from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to assert control over the Internet, and instructed its 27 Member States to act accordingly. This follows an attempt from the ITU to assert itself as the governing body and control the Internet. The Pirate Party was one of the parties drafting the resolution.
The resolution, which was passed with a large majority, included Members of European Parliament (MEPs) from all major party groups, and the Pirate Party’s Amelia Andersdotter had been playing a central role in its drafting, together with MEPs Marietje Schaake and Judith Sargentini from the Netherlands, Sabine Verheyen and Petra Kammerevert from Germany, Ivailo Kalfin from Bulgaria, and Catherine Trautmann from France.
In its upcoming meeting, the ITU is expected to try to decide for itself to have the regulatory power over the Internet. Many have been crying out against this shameless powergrab, now with the European Parliament – the elected legislators of the world’s largest economy – being the latest to join.
It is not surprising that the ITU would try to assert this power for itself, as it is the world’s industry body for telco operators, which stand to become obsolete as a result of the Internet. But if they can assert themselves as masters of the Internet, they get the desired ability to kill the potential of the net to replace them and their current cashcows. In other word, this is a textbook attempt at a regulatory capture by the ITU.
The Europarl resolution is very clear on the value of the Internet as a collaborative platform, and states that no single entity, like the ITU, should be able to exercise top-down control over the net:
3. [The European Parliament] believes that the ITU, or any other single, centralised international institution, is not the appropriate body to assert regulatory authority over either internet governance or internet traffic flows; […]
5. [The European Parliament] believes that, as a consequence of some of the proposals presented, the ITU itself could become the ruling power over aspects of the internet, which could end the present bottom-up, multi-stakeholder model; expresses concern that, if adopted, these proposals may seriously affect the development of, and access to, online services for end users, as well as the digital economy as a whole; believes that internet governance and related regulatory issues should continue to be defined at a comprehensive and multi-stakeholder level; […]
7. [The European Parliament] supports any proposals to maintain the current scope of the ITRs and the current mandate of the ITU; opposes any proposals that would extend the scope to areas such as the internet, including domain name space, IP address allocation, the routing of internet-based traffic and content-related issues;
8. [The European Parliament] calls on the Member States to prevent any changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations which would be harmful to the openness of the internet, net neutrality, the end-to-end principle, universal service obligations, and the participatory governance entrusted to multiple actors such as governments, supranational institutions, non-governmental organisations, large and small businesses, the technological community and internet users and consumers at large
“The resolution of the Parliament is a big success for Internet users. This sends a clear and positive signal to the European Commission and the Member States”, says Amelia Andersdotter, MEP for the Pirate Party and co-submitter of the resolution in a press release.
UPDATE: The first version of this article stated that the resolution had been passed unanimously, based on the first available sources, but secondary sources later used the phrasing “a large majority”. Until the formal protocol has been published and we know the official tally, “unanimously” was removed from the article.