New global web regulation proposal sparks fear of 'online censorship'
The deep divisions over treatment of the web have emerged after a group of Arab states put forward a plan that would require countries around the world to explicitly regulate Internet companies.
The unexpected new proposal for international regulation of the Internet drew warnings of a spread of online censorship and left a global conference on the issue on the edge of collapse.
The proposal, made at a conference in Dubai to agree a new international telecoms treaty, has also won the backing of Russia and China, along with a group of other countries, a report by the Financial Times said.
According to CNN, the pitch for direct regulation came as an unwelcome surprise to delegations from the US and other countries that have supported the current light system of regulation for the Internet.
Although countries are already free to impose national regulations, the US and its allies argue that enshrining the approach in a treaty would extend international legitimacy to repressive regimes that want to limit internet communications, while also making it easier for countries to co-operate on censorship and other restrictive practices, the report said.
Tariq al-Awadhi, head of the Arab states delegation, however, said that it made sense for internet companies to be included in the regulations since this would help force them to work together with network operators, it added.