I’ve been becoming increasingly concerned about the need to improve the international backhaul segment of Internet connectivity. There is plenty of good news like the cables landing along the east coast of Africa. But now there is bad news too. The European telcos have ganged up with ITU, trying to reimpose the discredited settlements regime on the Internet. So it looks like we’ll have to shift the focus from promoting good things to preventing bad things
I was asked to talk about high-priority areas for ICT policy research at the recently concluded CPRafrica 2012/CPRsouth7 conference in Mauritius. My comments about the need to keep the ITU off the Internet were well received. Here’s more on the subject.
How are the forces lining up? While governments will be officially represented, important non-state actors are seeking to influence the outcome. The result is a set of surprising coalitions. Those who want more order range from countries worried about political dissent (e.g. China and Iran) to those who want to protect their intellectual property (e.g. record labels and movie makers) or billing models (e.g. European telcos). Those who want less or no order include hackers, civil society groups concerned about privacy, advocates of unlimited freedom of expression, as well as criminal elements.