WSIS: The Foolish Dream of an Emperor
Via the ISOC@WSIS Blog.
Contrary to the official story found in many texts about WSIS, the drive behind WSIS was not the will to bridge the digital divide. WSIS was initiated through the influence of Yoshio Utsumi, the Secretary General of the ITU, in order to wrestle control of the Internet from the existing organizations that manage it. Mr. Utsumi wanted to leave behind him a legacy that would guarantee ITU’s continued role as the all-encompassing body controlling everything strategically related to telecommunications. To that aim, the ITU passed a resolution at its 1998 Plenipotentiary Conference calling for the United Nations’ endorsement in holding a summit to discuss issues and develop solutions related to the deployment of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). This resolution marked the birth of WSIS.
The ITU has prevailed in telecommunication since 1865 but now, thanks to the Internet, it is in dire straits. With technologies like VOIP (Voice over the Internet Protocol), the Internet is quickly overtaking the conventional telephony channels and making them rapidly irrelevant. As a desperate last attempt to prevent the ITU from falling into oblivion, Mr. Utsumi imagined in 1998 that taking over the Internet would inject his organization with newfound pertinence.
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