India joined the U.S. in opposing rules that would give governments control over the Internet as an international split over Web regulation divides a United Nations conference in Dubai.
“India feels there should not be a regulation of the Internet,” Rabindra Jha, the deputy director general of India’s telecommunications department, said in an interview. “It should be self regulating. It remains self regulating, like the solar system. Nobody regulates day and night, nobody regulates the year and months. It comes automatically.”
The conference is organized by the International Telecommunication Union, a UN agency, and aims to update 24-year-old global rules governing networks. Countries participating in the two-week-long Dubai gathering today continued to argue after a session that dragged into the small hours of the morning failed to produce an agreement.
The U.S. and U.K. have said that any mention of the Internet in the agreement would legitimize government control and censorship of the Internet.
Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and several Middle Eastern nations have said some regulations are needed to protect networks from spam and to give countries more power over web address systems.
Still, Jha didn’t preclude all global agreements on the Internet. Stakeholders may be able to agree on general principles that would address issues like hacking or other misuse of the Web.
“You try to find those principles which will govern the Internet automatically without any input from stakeholders,” Jha said.
The conference itself has been subject to debate before it even started in Dubai.
Criticism has come from government representatives as well as Internet companies, among which Google Inc. has been the most vocal. The world’s biggest search engine set up a petition against the event, saying some governments would push for a treaty allowing them to censor the Internet and limit the access to information.
Some industry and company representatives, including from Google, have attended the conference, though they have spoken up against not being able to vote. Only countries are asked to vote on proposals for the treaty, each of them holding one voice.