Watching the World Conference on Information Technology

December 03, 2012 8:43 AM

At the TaxPayers’ Alliance we believe in smaller government, lower taxes and less burdensome regulation. We believe in these fundamental principles for all people in the UK and abroad. Which is why we are closely watching the outcome of this week’s World Conference on Information Technology (WCIT) in Dubai.

The Digital Economy will bring yet untold benefits to everyone. A recent McKinsey report shows that for every traditional job lost to the Internet 2.6 jobs are created, and in mature markets 21 per cent of GDP growth in the last five years can be attributed to the Internet activities. In the UK there are now over 1,000 start-ups in London’s Tech City and there are many more digital success stories like ARM, whose chips enable digital technologies.

The WCIT will see the revision of a treaty called the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) for the first time since 1988. (A guide to the structure of the WCIT and the ITU can be found here) Originally created to deal with international telephone issues, the ITRs will now see the Internet come into its remit through proposals from countries like Russia and China who wish to have more strict control of the Internet at home and abroad.

Last week, a concise guide to the WCIT came out it provides a brief overview to some of the most perplexing and concerning proposals that would impact economic growth home and abroad. There are summarised below.

  • New regulations on access charges – charges would be levied on all content coming into a network. Governments would determine and charge for all content that could be access from within its country including news, search, and blogs.

  • Regulating private entities – governments would be able to regulation private, contractual agreements between entities including companies and individual users of the Internet.

  • Mandates overriding national sovereignty – language proposed by some members of the ITU would create binding agreements for all member states thereby overriding national legislation. This could include additional tax, regulation, and other activities relating to the telephone and Internet.

  • Mission and jurisdiction creep – the ITU could expand its mission to areas that it does not and has not had responsibility for thereby undermining its work.


As is evident, the WCIT will be a place where issues of Internet governance by different states will, no doubt, clash. Some states seek to regulate the Internet through heavy-handed intervention because access to information and the ability for freedom of expression undermines a national regime. This regulation will only cause harm to the much-needed economic growth worldwide. The UK cannot afford any other impacts to economic growth by way of a binding, international treaty at this time. So we will keep a watchful eye on the events over the next two weeks.At the TaxPayers’ Alliance we believe in smaller government, lower taxes and less burdensome regulation. We believe in these fundamental principles for all people in the UK and abroad. Which is why we are closely watching the outcome of this week’s World Conference on Information Technology (WCIT) in Dubai.

The Digital Economy will bring yet untold benefits to everyone. A recent McKinsey report shows that for every traditional job lost to the Internet 2.6 jobs are created, and in mature markets 21 per cent of GDP growth in the last five years can be attributed to the Internet activities. In the UK there are now over 1,000 start-ups in London’s Tech City and there are many more digital success stories like ARM, whose chips enable digital technologies.

The WCIT will see the revision of a treaty called the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) for the first time since 1988. (A guide to the structure of the WCIT and the ITU can be found here) Originally created to deal with international telephone issues, the ITRs will now see the Internet come into its remit through proposals from countries like Russia and China who wish to have more strict control of the Internet at home and abroad.

Last week, a concise guide to the WCIT came out it provides a brief overview to some of the most perplexing and concerning proposals that would impact economic growth home and abroad. There are summarised below.

  • New regulations on access charges – charges would be levied on all content coming into a network. Governments would determine and charge for all content that could be access from within its country including news, search, and blogs.

  • Regulating private entities – governments would be able to regulation private, contractual agreements between entities including companies and individual users of the Internet.

  • Mandates overriding national sovereignty – language proposed by some members of the ITU would create binding agreements for all member states thereby overriding national legislation. This could include additional tax, regulation, and other activities relating to the telephone and Internet.

  • Mission and jurisdiction creep – the ITU could expand its mission to areas that it does not and has not had responsibility for thereby undermining its work.


As is evident, the WCIT will be a place where issues of Internet governance by different states will, no doubt, clash. Some states seek to regulate the Internet through heavy-handed intervention because access to information and the ability for freedom of expression undermines a national regime. This regulation will only cause harm to the much-needed economic growth worldwide. The UK cannot afford any other impacts to economic growth by way of a binding, international treaty at this time. So we will keep a watchful eye on the events over the next two weeks.

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