Kramer: U.S. 'disappointed' Internet was swept into treaty talks


hroughout the recent two-week conference in Dubai, the U.S. had argued that the treaty should not give a U.N. telecommunications agency, known as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), more authority over the management of the web. 

The U.S. had argued that Internet related-provisions should stay out of the treaty. American officials said the Internet should continue to be overseen by a mix of public and private organizations — not one single entity. 

It also contended that the ITU only has authority over telecommunications issues and measures that applied to telecom network operators. 

"The Internet, to us, is a very different environment," he said. 

Kramer said he hopes ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure will resolve to keep the ITU's focus on telecommunications in the future, rather than expanding its attention to the Internet.  

"I think that if he's a forward-looking leader, he'll realize that the telecom charter is the right area and these other areas are going to get him nowhere in terms of broader support," he said. 

Toure, however, has denied that the treaty includes new provisions dealing with the Internet. The ITU chief has argued that there is a non-binding resolution attached to the treaty that's aimed at fostering the growth of the Web.

"I have been saying in the run up to this conference that this conference is not about governing the Internet," Toure said in a statement last week. "I repeat that the conference did NOT include provisions on the Internet in the treaty text."

Eighty-nine member countries signed the treaty at the conference in Dubai. The U.S., U.K. and Canada refused to sign. Kramer said 55 nations, including the U.S., stated they would either not sign the treaty, or had reservations and needed to receive guidance from their governments before signing onto it. 

"I hardly call 89 nations out of 193 [member countries] broad consensus," Kramer said.  

The treaty will go into effect in Jan. 2015. 

In the short-term, the U.S. needs to keep engaging other countries, particularly English-speaking African countries and nations in Latin America, in the discussion about Internet governance, he said. 

"They're listening, they want to have a dialogue," Kramer said. "We need to be spending more time with those nations." 

— This story was updated at 4 p.m.