This Week in Tech: Nations meet to rewrite UN Internet treaty

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Russia, China and other non-democratic countries have proposed to give the ITU and governments more authority over important Internet functions. All eyes will be focused on whether those controversial proposals will win support from other member countries.

“There are those who may suggest next week in Dubai — and in future venues where Internet policy is discussed — that the United States controls the Internet. Alternatively, they may suggest that in the future governments alone should run the Internet. Our response is grounded in the reality that this is simply not the case,” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, National Telecommunications and Information Administration Administrator Lawrence Strickling and Philip Verveer, coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy at the State Department, wrote in a blog post on Friday.

“The Internet is a decentralized network of networks and there is no one party — government or industry — that controls the Internet today. And that’s a good thing,” the U.S. officials said.

In the run-up to the conference, Google has also ratcheted up its rhetoric against treaty language submitted by various member countries. The search juggernaut recently launched an advocacy campaign arguing that proposed changes to the treaty “could increase censorship and threaten innovation” online.

In other tech news, the Senate Judiciary Committee will debate Sen. Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) Location Privacy Protection Act on Thursday.

The bill would require companies like Apple and Google to get a customer's consent before collecting or sharing mobile location data.

The committee is expected to debate amendments to the legislation on Thursday and vote on it on Dec. 13.

The measure has six co-sponsors, including Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). But with Congress focused on the “fiscal cliff” of automatic spending cuts and tax increases in the final weeks of the year, the bill’s chances for passage this Congress look slim. An aide to Franken said the senator intends to push the measure again next Congress.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday to examine President Obama’s nominees to the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.

Obama has nominated Democrat Mignon Clyburn for a second term at the FCC and Republican Joshua Wright for a first term at the FTC.

Clyburn is a vocal advocate for media diversity and pushed the commission to look into the high rates that prison inmates pay for phone calls to their families. The Senate unanimously confirmed her nomination for a first term in July 2009.

Wright has attracted attention for stating that he thinks the FTC should not sue Google for anti-competitive conduct. But he would likely recuse himself from the Google case if he is confirmed before the commission makes a decision.

Representatives from the FCC as well as the broadcasting and wireless industries will discuss the upcoming incentive spectrum auctions in a live webcast hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers on Monday afternoon.

On Wednesday morning, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, will discuss the election’s impact on politics and policy at an event hosted by the Villanova School of Business at the Willard hotel in Washington. A panel of three House aides will then discuss telecommunications, taxes and the fiscal cliff.

On Wednesday morning, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on the “impact of international technology transfer on American research and development.”