A UN debate on internet regulation has stalled as the UK, US and other westerm countries disagree with Arab States, China and Russia in a diplomatic battle over a set of possible global web laws.
The chief American negotiator at a UN telecommunications conference in Dubai has said there is a basic disagreement over possible new internet regulations.
Ambassador Terry Kramer said some advocate stronger government roles but the US wants to leave the internet alone.
Kramer is leading efforts at closed-door talks to block any new UN rules on internet oversight, warning they could lead to more censorship and restrictions around the world.
A reported counter-proposal submitted by host nation the United Arab Emirates – backed by Russia, China and others – advocates a stronger government say in internet affairs.
The coalition of nations behind the 22-page proposal, which also includes Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Sudan, wants the updated treaty to explicitly give “governments, the private sector and civil society” a role in internet regulation.
It would also give all 193 countries attending the meeting an equal role overseeing the Domain Name System, which ensures web addresses function properly. It is currently administered by ICANN, a body under contract to the US government.
The UN’s International Telecommunication Union is seeking to wrap up meetings in Dubai this week, but negotiators still appear deeply divided.
The UN talks also include a wide-ranging agenda, including ways to expand internet services in developing nations.
Ahead of the meeting, Google publicly complained that the freedom of the internet was under threat. It is particularly worried by proposals that could introduce “sender pays” charges for internet traffic, meaning it would have to pay telecoms firms for connecting people to services such as YouTube.