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International Internet Union, sponsored by Vladimir Putin?

The International Telecommunication Regulations of 1865 (subjected to a major overhaul in 1988) are what underlie the ITU’s claim to be the oldest international organization. I spent a considerable number of days working on their reform when serving on the Expert Committee appointed by the then Secretary General to propose measures on how to update them. They came to nought partly because several members representing powerful governments wanted nothing to be done. The error of that decision is now becoming apparent.

Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia met with Hamadoun Touré, secretary general of the I.T.U., this month in Geneva, where he said that “Russia was determined to contribute to the work of the union and to strengthen the collaboration with the organization,” according to an I.T.U. news release.

The official Russian government Web site carries a more detailed description of the discussions, saying Mr. Putin told Mr. Touré: “We are thankful to you for the ideas that you have proposed for discussion. One of them is establishing international control over the Internet using the monitoring and supervisory capabilities of the International Telecommunication Union.”

The I.T.U., which coordinates international use of the radio spectrum and allocates satellite orbits, among other things, also plans an international discussion on the future of the Internet during a meeting next year at its headquarters in Geneva. There, I.T.U. members are scheduled to discuss revising existing international telecommunications regulations, which were written in 1988, when the Internet was in its infancy.

Full report.

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