The WCITLeaks.org co-founder discusses how anonymous uploads to his website are shedding light on the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications.
It’s no coincidence that WCITLeaks sounds like Wikileaks. Both websites were established to increase government transparency. Whereas Wikileaks has faced lawsuits and arrests, WCITLeaks co-founder Eli Dourado says the worst his new site might face is diplomatic strife.
Dourado set up WCITLeaks to host anonymously uploaded documents pertaining to the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). As Brian Pellot explained in a previous post, WCIT will be held in December under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to update the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) for the first time since 1988. ITR changes could bring the internet under the ITU’s regulatory authority. Until WCITLeaks, only member states and private industries willing to pay more than $30,000 could access the ITU’s working documents, leaving civil society groups in the dark. That all changed when the site launched in June. “Everything we’re doing is totally legal, so we don’t have to hide our identities. There’s not really a danger that if you leak to us you’re going to go to jail,” Dourado says. But leakers could face political backlash from the ITU and member states (12mins 36secs).
Dourado and his co-founder Jerry Brito recently updated the WCITLeaks site “to be more of a one-stop shop where people can get informed on this issue” (10mins 20secs). This meant adding a civil society resource section containing research and advocacy materials. In July, amidst a flurry of leaks, the ITU Governing Council released one summary document of proposed ITR amendments. Dourado says this move, while promising, did not represent real transparency (17mins 44secs).
WCIT differs from SOPA and PIPA, two US bills that caused great furor among internet users and activists in early 2012, because political pressure in the US will not be enough to defeat it. “This process is much more of a diplomatic process. It involves reaching out to our friends in other countries to put pressure on their governments, not just everybody flipping out at congress” (13mins 40secs). Echoing our second draft principle, Dourado says ITU regulation of the internet would constitute an illegitimate encroachment of power. “The ITU doesn’t have the expertise to regulate the internet, they don’t have any democratic accountability at all, and they operate completely contrary to the spirit of the internet so far” (21mins 9secs).
Dourado expects a new batch of leaks when member states submit draft proposals to the ITU in November and again when the conference gets under way in December. Despite a dearth of media coverage around WCIT so far, he thinks civil society groups “will sound the alarm if it looks like it’s going to be a bad outcome” (15mins 35secs).