Page last updated at 20:24 GMT, Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Statement on telecommunications conference

MEPs have urged the European Commission to use a forthcoming conference on telecommunications to uphold the principles of internet neutrality and freedom of speech, during a debate on 20 November 2012.

The conference, which takes place in Dubai in December 2012, has been set up by the International Telecommunication Union to review the current International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR).

The ITR is a 1988 treaty which set out rules for how traffic should flow between different telecom networks, and how to calculate charges for traffic exchanged between carriers in different countries.

The rise of the internet and mobile devices has led to calls for it to be revised, but countries are expected to disagree over the changes needed.

At present several non-profit US bodies oversee the net's technical specifications and domain-name system, and the US government says it would resist any effort to put the internet under the control of the United Nations.

However Dutch liberal MEP Marietje Schaake said she feared this attitude was leading to the "re-territorialisation of the internet".

She highlighted concerns about increased cases of free speech being stifled and online surveillance, stating "the internet must be a truly public sphere where fundamental rights are secured".

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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