As this month’s cover story no doubt has reminded you, it’s tradition at the end of the year for industry experts, analysts and pundits to make predictions about what the telecoms sector can expect in the next year. And why should this column be any different?
So here’s a few predictions about 2013 from me.
1. The ITU won’t take over the Internet
As I type this, the ITU’s World Conference on International Telecommunications(WCIT) is in progress, with the goal of updating its International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs). Allegedly on the table is the ITU taking over regulation and management of the internet from ICANN, and the blogscape (to say nothing of the US House Of Representatives) is a-dither over the very idea.
So far, I’ve seen no indication that the ITU leadership even wants to be the new ICANN.
And given that the ITU generally works on consensus, whatever changes are made to the ITRs when the WCIT concludes, I’m reasonably sure internet governance will remain in ICANN’s hands.
If that’s the case, of course, ICANN had better move quickly to ensure its opponents that it’s serious about addressing the shortcomings that drove some countries to propose an ITU takeover in the first place. My prediction on that: they’ll probably get the ball rolling on a few things, but not enough to assuage their critics.
2. Governments will keep writing bad bills to regulate it
To be honest, if it’s control of the internet that keeps you up at night, I’d worry less about the ITRs and more about dumb legislative proposals, treaties and trade agreements from individual governments attempting to govern internet communications in some form or other.
Even when such efforts are aimed at specific groups of lawbreakers (terrorists, cybercriminals, copyright infringers, etc), it seems every single bill or treaty that gets written to deal with such things is written in a way that casts too wide a net, reduces privacy rights for everyone, and in some cases has the potential
to screw up the internet. You’ll be seeing more of that in 2013.
On the bright side, most of them will be as successful as previous efforts – which is to say, not very.