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Can someone explain the problems with the ITU creating specifications? I thought I understood it, but all the recent excitement and anti-ITU sentiment tells me I must be missing something.

How is what the ITU does different from any standards body? They can propose standards for DPI, censoring, etc., but that won't magically make Level3 or Comcast or any particular ISP start playing with my packets.

What am I missing? Where does the stuff the ITU does somehow change the policies and actions of my ISP?




It let's individual governments "pass the buck" of responsibility. When the objection in parliament is brought up of "This seems like a bad idea" the response is "We're just doing what the ITU recommends"

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I can see that working in countries who might be reliant on others for parts of their tech infrastructure. But would that actually work in the UK?

Here in the U.S., we like to be the ones creating recommendations for the rest of the world, not following them (at least not blindly). The excuse of "We're just doing what the ITU recommends" would never fly here.

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> But would that actually work in the UK?

Yes. This already happens with the EU; at least some of the unpopular things "forced" on the British government by the EU were actually requested by the UK in the first place.

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Out of interest, like what?

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That sounds plausible. I've heard the US do the same thing, making unpopular changes domestically by pursuing them through foreign policies, then bringing the US "world standard."

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I have no specific knowledge of these negotiations, but you have to look deeper to see who suggested what.

You might find that (e.g.) AT&T (pipes) or Comcast (pipes) or Cisco (hardware) lobbied with a lot of countries and US government bodies to make this happen. Depending on the outcome, they might have a lot to gain; and doing it this way, they appear a helpless victim, just "taking orders from the UN", when in fact it was their initiative.

E.g. ACTA (and its son, the TPP) are pushed hard by Hollywood - but are mostly presented to the congress and the public as "this is an international treaty we must follow"

Poltiics and diplomacy make sure that real reasons are almost never reflected in newspaper headlines.

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It absolutely works in the US. Look at some of the copyright extension stuff. There were complaints and the response from congress was "We're just normalizing with Europe"

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They're re-negotiating the ITRs, which are the provisions in the ITU's underlying treaty.

Some general information (PDF): https://www.cdt.org/files/file/Global%20Internet%20Governanc...

On the DPI issue: https://www.cdt.org/blogs/cdt/2811adoption-traffic-sniffing-...

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I still haven't seen exactly how this would possibly be enforced. Just like products selectively choose features, even if the IETF or ITU says "mandatory", does not somehow create a law. The ITU can't just vote itself to tell an ISP how to handle traffic, even internationally.

They could create a standard and then let individual countries tell vendors "hey, you must comply with B.123 in order to sell in our country" -- but they can do that anyways. If a government wants snooping capabilities, you can bet every vendor will add it to get their business. It's still the government that decides if it's mandatory to turn on or not.

Again, I'd like to hear the full path from the ITU taking a vote, to my ISP suddenly snooping in on stuff. I can't figure it out.

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It's not about enforcement. It's about deniability and ass-covering.

My sport (paragliding) has been destroyed by similar actions from the governing body in the last 18 months. They don't need to say "you should do X". All they need to say is "we think that maybe you should do X" and suddenly everybody falls into line and does X. It's not about enforcement, it's about not being seen to contradict a perceived authority.

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ITU is lobbied by governments wanting some level of snooping.

ITU votes to allow some kind of snooping in the standards.

Government asks ISPS etc to follow the internationally agreed standard. "We'll only use the snooping stuff for terrorists and images of child sexual abuse, really."

Government uses this new compliance to the standards to get your ISP to snoop on stuff.

The governments take this circuitous route so that they as individual governments don't get attacked by local libertarians. Defeating a measure like this in one country is hard; defeating it across international treaties is very hard.

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They are negotiating the underlying treaty, but I don't think this is a treaty provision. It's a standards document, adopted by World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA), not WCIT, which is renegotiating the treaty. Basically, this is not a law, it's a spec.

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