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Web Groups Reject UN Committee Vote on Internet Policies

Organizations representing Internet companies came out against a provisional vote by a United Nations agency discussing updates to global telecommunications rules, saying it may lead to Web regulation.

The International Telecommunications Union, which has said it won’t pass rules that would expand the its power over the Internet, took a non-binding vote during a conference in Dubai to gauge support for a resolution to foster growth of the Web.

The survey at the World Conference on International Telecommunications was intended to “sound the temperature of the room,” and wasn’t a formal vote, Chairman Mohammed Nasser Al-Ghanim, who called for the poll, said today at the session. The Internet Association, whose members include Google Inc., Zynga Inc., Yahoo! Inc., Inc. and other Web-based companies, said it interpreted the show of hands as a step toward more government control of the Internet.

The association “is strongly opposed to ITU efforts to regulate the Internet, and urges member states to ensure it is not included in the final treaty text,” the lobbying group said in a statement. “We urge the Internet community to join together to stop this imminent threat to Internet freedom.”

The Internet Society, a separate public-policy organization backed by companies including Google, Microsoft Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. that lobbies for an “open” Internet, called the ballot “a disappointing development.”

Regulatory Dispute

The U.S., Canada, the U.K. and a number of other delegations have said they will reject any measure that attempts to regulate the Internet. Representatives from Russia, China and several countries in the Middle East have pushed for more sovereign control over domain names, spam blocking and other Web-related issues.

Countries supporting rules that would control some aspects of the Internet, including Saudi Arabia, have complained during the plenaries that governments such as the U.S. aren’t making enough compromises in the negotiations.

Al-Ghanim said the proposal was a hard-fought compromise over an issue which has delayed a conference decision on updating the ITU’s 24-year-old rules for international regulation of telecommunications networks.

“I brought it to this meeting, but I have to say there is a group that was basically walking out of this compromise one after one,” Al-Ghanim said. “I’m trying to make progress. I’m trying to help everybody.”

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