The International Telecommunications Union, an arm of the United Nations, is meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates this week to discuss updating international telecommunication codes. One of the items expected to draw considerable discussion is to what extent governments should be able to control access to the Internet.
This comes up a week after Syria shut down access to the Internet — and cellular telephone service — as it tries to survive in a growing civil war. Egypt limited Internet access during demonstrations protesting the Mubarak regime last year, China has blocked Internet service at times as well, and there is growing interest among authoritarian governments around the globe in preserving their right to control Internet during times of emergency. The Russian government wants the International Telecommunications Union, which is hosting the conference, to adopt language that would enable it to terminate Internet access in the interest of “decency” or “territorial integrity.”
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