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ITU

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Google has spilled the beans about a private meeting between governments and organizations at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that could limit online freedom for Internet users.

The search giant has forked its official website to create a website arm called Take Action to warn about world governments and establishments who convened to talk about tightening control of the Internet, raise censorship, and endanger innovation.

“The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to re-negotiate a decades-old communications treaty,” said Google in protest against the ITU meeting on December 3.

“Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech – or even allow them to cut off Internet access. Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information – particularly in emerging markets.”

Google has been an advocate against web censorship, and its recent efforts include protests to abolish the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S.

Google 'Take Action' Backs the Free and Open Internet

When voting for SOPA came up, Google blacked out its name on its search page results and redirected users to a brief line: “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web! End piracy, not liberty.”

MoreGoogle to Join Wednesday Protest Against SOPA

The new move intends to circulate and uphold talks in the open to keep people aware and make all involved governments and organizations to include all relevant parties. Google said the closed-door ITU meeting is not the proper place of discussion on Internet management.

It said, “Only governments have a voice at the ITU. This includes governments that do not support a free and open Internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote. The ITU is also secretive. The treaty conference and proposals are confidential.”

“Governments alone should not determine the future of the Internet. The billions of people around the globe that use the Internet, and the experts that build and maintain it, should be included.”

Google is now asking Internet users to sign up for more details and include their voice in support of the free and open Internet.

““A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice,” said the search giant.

A spokesperson for Google said, “More than 100 organizations from 50+ countries have raised concerns about an upcoming closed-door meeting in December in Dubai, where governments will consider proposals to increase regulation and censorship of the Internet.”

“People can learn more about the issue on our website – and if they choose to do so, can pledge their support for a free and open Internet.”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-lwA9GJ1e0

On December 2010, Google Chief Internet Evangelist Vinton Cerf strongly disapproved the United Nation’s decision to create a Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), which only consists of government officials from member countries, enforcing its efforts in improving the powerful Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

MoreGoogle’s Vinton Cerf Disapproves Complete Government Control of the Internet

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UN telecoms agency International Telecommunications Union announced that there were about as much mobile phone subscriptions as inhabitants of this planet. 6 billion subscriptions were registered by the end of 2011, according to their reports. Almost one billion of these were found in China. The report, titled Measuring the Information Society 2012, was compiled after access to ICT in 155 countries was surveyed.

ITU headquarters
UN telecoms agency International Telecommunication Union headquarters in Geneva.
Photo: Alfred Molon – www.molon.de

“We count Sim cards, not the number of devices or people, so if one person has two Sim cards in one device, it counts as two subscriptions; and we count monthly subscriptions as well,” said Susan Teltscher, head of the agency’s data division. This could probably contribute to the high number associated with mobile phone subscriptions. However, sim cards used in modems or in a tablet were not counted.

The agency, based in the UN headquarters in Geneva, also stated that slightly above one-third of the world’s population used the internet by 2011. However, the disparity in internet usage between users in developed and developing countries has not reduced, as only 24% of the population in developing countries were online, compared with 70% in developed countries. There were almost twice as much mobile broadband internet subscriptions as fixed broadband internet.

Despite the huge number of internet users, prices in developing countries are yet to go down. However, according to Brahima Sanou, director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, in order to bring the internet to even more people, 3G network has to be expanded and the cost of broadband-enabled devices and internet subscription lowered even further.

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