Wires

If Internet governance ain't broke, don't fix it, US says

* Conference to discuss rules in Dubai in December

* Natural path is "pretty good" - US envoy

* Says national defence, cyber security should be excluded

By Tom Miles

GENEVA, Oct 8 (Reuters) - The best solution to improvingoversight of the Internet may be to do nothing at all, a seniorU.S. official said on Monday while briefing reporters on aconference in December that could decide to consolidate controlwithin a U.N. body.

The International Telecommunication Union, the U.N. bodyconvening the conference, has said there is broad consensus thatthe treaty governing the way international voice, data and videotraffic is handled needs to be updated after 24 years.

With the rapid spread of the Internet around the world, the178 signatories have decided to look into ways of increasingcollaboration, using telecoms to drive economic development, andmaking the rules more relevant and responsive to thefast-evolving industry.

However, doing nothing "would not be a terrible outcome atall", said U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer, who will head the U.S.delegation at the World Conference on InternationalTelecommunications, which will be held in Dubai.

"The natural path we're on is pretty good," he toldreporters in Geneva.

"Does that mean there aren't things that could improve?Absolutely there are things that could improve. But the bestthing to do, if you could pick two options, one is to getprescriptive and get into a lot of things versus leaving thingsopen, we're much better by leaving things open."

He rejected suggestions that the United States was taking anegative approach to meeting, which will renegotiate a treatylast revisited in 1988, and said other countries' ideas aboutputting rules in place to force the Internet to develop were themore negative proposals.

The treaty comprises international telecommunicationsregulations (ITRs) that set out principles for ensuring thatnetworks can connect with each other smoothly.

Kramer said any work done at the conference shouldultimately benefit citizens, consumers and society at large.

"We need to avoid suffocating the Internet space throughwell-meaning but overly prescriptive proposals that would seekto control content or seek to mandate routing and paymentpractices. That would send the Internet back to a circuit switchera that is actually passing in history," he said.

He said cyber security, cyber crime and national defenceissues should be excluded from the regulations, since these werebetter handled elsewhere.

He declined to say if the United States was simply trying topreserve its freedom to conduct its cyber foreign policy how itchooses.

"If people have a concern with what the U.S. does, theycertainly can raise those issues and there are internationalenvironments where those things get discussed. Our message is inthe ITRs, that is not the right place to bring those up," hesaid.

(Editing by Alison Williams)

((tom.miles@thomsonreuters.com)(+41 22 733 38 31)(ReutersMessaging: tom.miles.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: INTERNET GOVERNANCE/USA