Workers Around Globe Call on ITU Chief To Reject New Internet Controls

Petitions signed by nearly 100,000 people from around the world will be sent to International Telecommunications Union Secretary General Hamadoun Touré today calling on him to withdraw proposals to change the way the Internet is regulated.

The International Trade Union Confederation has been leading the global effort to draw attention to the ITU conference currently underway in Dubai, where some governments and telcos are seeking greater control over the way the internet operates.

The two-week meeting had been called to review the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) with Russia, China and some Arab states pushing for greater powers for individual nations to control net activity in their jurisdiction.

The ITUC and other groups including Greenpeace and Google support the current multi-stakeholder model which sees the Net as a global asset that should be free of national controls.
The global petition has attracted supporters in dozens of nations including Germany (over 30,000), the USA (38,000), the UK (16,000), France (4,000) and Australia (4,000).

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said that despite reports that Russia had withdrawn its more extreme proposals, concerns remained that nations would be pressured into a ‘compromise position’ that would allow for greater state control of the net.

“Working people around the world have used the internet to organise politically and in their workplaces to fight for their rights.

“Whether you were on the streets during the Arab spring, protesting austerity in Europe or organising a factory in China, the unfettered internet has been a potent tool for fighting the powerful.

“Our concern remains that any mechanisms that give governments regulatory controls of the net will inevitably lead to restrictions on freedoms of individual workers.

“I want to congratulate the nearly 100,000 workers who have put their name to this petition and can assure them the ITUC will continue to campaign for online freedom.

“The positive from the ITU’s attempted Net grab is that we all better understand the way the internet is governed and we have been asked to take a stand for a web that exists beyond the realm of state control,” said Sharan Burrow.