Seen Geena Davis since “The Long Kiss Goodnight” or the “Stuart Little” films if you’re into that thing? We haven’t either. But now Mrs. Davis is shilling for the secretive Internet regulation organization ITU (International Telecommunication Union). I recently covered ITU’s latest round of negotations for ITR (International Telecommunication Regulations), but here’s a primer in case you’re a Geena Davis fan or clueless about ITU and it’s ITR negotiations.
ITU is a creation of the United Nations. Its stated goal is to foster growth and development in international telecommunications. As its website states, it is “Committed to connecting the world.” An innocuous mission, to be sure. But one of ITU’s own creations, ITR, which is regularly renegotiated, has caused no small amount of opposition over its attempts to regulate the Internet. It can thus be spoken of in the same breath as other international and domestic Internet regulatory schmes such as SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, CISPA, H.R. 1981 and TPP.
ITRs were telecom regulation measures adopted in 1988, coming into force in 1990.178 states have signed onto the treaty, but the process and its negotiations are not open. It is secretive, with civil society (technology creators and consumers) shut out of the process.
According to an ITU press release, “Academy Award Winning Actor and advocate Geena Davis is to become ITU’s Special Envoy for Women and Girls in the field of technology.” It seems that Davis’s “first activities in her new role as special envoy will be to promote ITU’s new ‘Tech Needs Girls’ campaign throughout the course of 2012, through public appearances at high-profile events held by ITU and others.”
Honorable, indeed; but is Davis aware of the controversy surrounding ITU’s most recent round of secret ITR negotiations? Would she approve of a treaty that seeks to control and regulate the Internet?
Davis should turn a critical eye to the organization she’s now representing. There are better ways of fostering gender empowerment in technology than working with the ITU.