The UN’s International Telecommunications Union (or ITU) recently approved recommendations from China that allow for more surveillance of the global Internet. Explained in this article on CNET, the new standard would allow countries to engage in, among other things, deep packet inspection – violating the privacy of all Internet users. This is the same tactic that is used by repressive regimes to spy on its citizens. Also approved are “ network operators will be able to identify ‘embedded digital watermarks in MP3 data,’ discover ‘copyright protected audio content,’ find ‘Jabber messages with Spanish text,’ or ‘identify uploading BitTorrent users.’ Jabber is also known as XMPP, an instant messaging protocol (Cnet article).” Germany voiced objections to the approval stating that the UN should not standardize any technologies that allow for great surveillance and less freedom of ideas and information. The UN chose to ignore Germany’s warning and have gone ahead with the approval. The actual document, Y.2770, is confidential as is their latest meeting in Dubai, which began this week. The United States and many Internet companies have publicly criticized these meetings and the secrecy surrounding them. Since the doors are shut, we will have to wait and see what the UN decides is next for the fate of the Internet.
FightfortheFuture has a campaign to tell your government about your dislike for the ITU and what it could potentially do to your Internet freedoms. Please feel free to participate if you believe in this cause.
*Update 12/10: A Russian-led coalition of countries has withdrawn its support for the proposal. The committees are now meeting to redraft the treaty with the final draft being released on December 13 and a vote the next day. Read all the details from CNET’s article.