World Conference on International Telecommunications
Ambassador U.S. Head of Delegation, World Conference on International Telecommunications
MODERATOR: Yes, good evening everyone. We’re here in Dubai and with Ambassador Kramer. We’ve just finished a session at the World Conference on International Telecommunications, and I’m going to turn it over to Ambassador Kramer now to give us the latest developments that happened at the WCIT 2012.
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Great. Megan, thank you, and thank all of you for joining us today. I want to thank you for your attention and patience as we’ve worked through the last two weeks at this conference, and I appreciate your diligence and persistence in reporting on the WCIT.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank and commend the ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Toure and our Conference Chairman, Mr. Mohamed Al-Ghanim, for their efforts and skills in working to guide this meeting. Our gratitude also goes to the United Arab Emirates for their hospitality during these two weeks.
The United States today has announced that it cannot sign the revised international telecommunication regulations in their current form. Throughout the WCIT, the U.S. and other likeminded governments have worked consistently and unwaveringly to maintain and enhance an environment for success for the international telecommunications and internet sectors. The United States has consistently believed, and continues to believe, that the ITRs should be a high-level document and that the scope of the treaty does not extend to internet governance or content. Other administrations have made it clear that they believe the treaty should be extended to cover those issues, and so we cannot be part of that consensus.
There are a number of issues that were critical to the United States in these negotiations. Number one, recognized operating agencies versus operating agencies. The United States consistently sought to clarify that the treaty would not apply to internet service providers or governments or private network operators.
Number two, spam. The United States position remains that spam is a form of content and that regulating it inevitably opens the door to regulation of other forms of content, including political and cultural speech.
Number three, network security. The United States continues to believe that the ITRs are not a useful venue for addressing security issues and cannot accede to vague commitments that would have significant implications but few practical improvements on security.
Number four, internet governance. In several proposals, it was clear that some administrations were seeking to insert government control over internet governance, specifically internet naming and addressing functions. We continue to believe these issues can only be legitimately handled through multi-stakeholder organizations.
And finally, number five, the internet resolution. This document represented a direct extension of scope into the internet and of the ITU’s role therein despite earlier assertions from Secretary General Hamadoun Toure that the WCIT would not address internet issues.
The United States has been willing to engage in good-faith discussions regarding these issues, and we’d like to thank and commend the other delegates for engaging with us. However, while we have consistently maintained our positions regarding the scope of the conference, other administrations have continually filed out-of-scope proposals that unacceptably altered the nature of the discussions, and ultimately of the ITRs.
It is clear that the world community is at a crossroads in its collective view of the internet and of the most optimal environment for the flourishing of the internet in this century. The internet is a global phenomenon that is providing enormous personal, social, and economic benefits to consumers, citizens, and societies in all areas of the world. It has grown exponentially over the past decade and continues to flourish and adapt to human needs everywhere. The entire world has benefited from this growth, and the developing countries are seeing higher growth rates than the developed world. The infrastructure of the global internet is shifting rapidly away from the transatlantic routes that formerly carried most traffic. The internet is becoming more regional and national and less centered in the U.S. and other Western countries. This is a welcome development.
All of the benefits and growth of the internet have come as a result not of government action or of intergovernmental treaty. They are an organic expression of consumer demand and societal needs, along with other multi-stakeholder governance. We have every expectation that the internet will continue to grow and provide enormous benefits worldwide. The United States will continue to uphold and advance the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance, standards development, and management. No single organization or government can or should attempt to control the internet or dictate its future development.
In addition, the United States remains fully committed to the values of freedom of expression and the free flow of information and ideas on the internet. While there was no consensus at WCIT-12, the conference served a valuable purpose in clarifying views and building a foundation for continued dialogue. The United States will continue to work not only within the ITU but in multiple forums to achieve the universal goals of further growth of advanced network infrastructure in developing countries.
The United States continues to believe that multi-stakeholder governance of the internet, coupled with liberalized telecommunication markets and the growth of network infrastructure in all countries, will accelerate growth and spread of the international telecommunications and internet throughout the world. The U.S. will remain engaged in a global dialogue on the role of governments and other stakeholders in the growth and development of international telecommunications and the internet sectors. This conversation will not be over when WCIT-12 ends. Rather, the discussion will continue for many months and years.
I’d like to now open the floor for your questions.
OPERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to ask a question, please press * then 1 on your touchtone phone. You will hear a tone indicating you have been placed in queue. You may remove yourself from the queue at any time by pressing the # key. If you are using a speakerphone, please pick up the handset before pressing the numbers. One moment, please, for our first question.
Our first question is from Rob Lever with AFP. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Yes, Ambassador, thank you. You said at the start that the United States cannot sign these ITRs in their current form. And does that mean that it’s not quite over and that you still have some hope of reaching some compromise, or is – you believe that proposal is on the table? And secondly, what does it mean if there is no consensus or no treaty that’s signed? What does that mean? Do we even need this at all?
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Yeah. Thank you for the question. So first of all, the discussions in the main plenary right now are in the final stages. And the chairman has gone through – the chairman of the conference has gone through several rounds of changes to the ITRs to try and meet a variety of needs. And that’s been a lot of our negotiations that have gone on over the last few days.
The version that’s out there now looks like it’s the near-final one. There could still be some very small ones, but it’s looking near final. And the level of support from a variety of other nations looks strong enough that it looks unlikely it will materially change. So I just made a public commentary on the plenary floor to let the audience know there that we were not going to sign the agreement. And obviously, we talked about our fundamental belief in multi-stakeholder governance. So while there’s still a chance things could change, I’d say it’s highly unlikely. The plenary will meet for another hour or two, and then there’s formalities tomorrow with signatures and other things.
So what can happen is your second question. So what’s likely is if there’s enough consensus to proceed, there’ll be an actual signing ceremony where the countries that do agree with the ITRs will formally sign them. Obviously we are not going to be signing them. There may be some nations that will take reservations. So they may sign the agreement, but they will identify several areas that they don’t like about the treaty. So it’s a way of expressing opposition to it.
So the final part of your question is why does all this matter, how does it matter, et cetera. At the end of the day, these ITRs are not legally binding terms. They’re much more normative and values oriented. It really kind of drives what the public discussion is. The actual ITRs officially don’t take effect until January of 2015, and again, there’s not a legally binding nature to it. But what is very fundamental about all this discussion is this is – we’ve had a very explicit discussion about views on the internet, and how it should be managed. And that – it was an explicit discussion on the plenary floor, and with our bilaterals, et cetera. And as you know, the divergence of views is significant. And we’re going to continue to advocate the multi-stakeholder model. I’d like to think that as time progresses and people see the benefit of the internet, that the belief in liberalized markets and a multi-stakeholder model that frankly is much more practical in terms of advancing the internet, that that will take hold. But that will take a period of time, that discussion.
OPERATOR: Our next question is from Eliza Krigman. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Hi. This is Eliza Krigman with Politico. Thanks for taking my call. What does this mean for the commercial arrangement between carriers, and specifically within payments from – or sending party pay payments, will there – if some countries ratify this treaty, does that mean they’re going to then send Google a bill for sending their subscribers YouTube content?
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Yeah. So, Eliza, fortunately the sending party pays elements have been removed through negotiations. They have been removed from the agreements here. So we’re obviously very pleased about that. There’s obviously still – you have a lot of organizations that do business globally. But the way the treaty works is there’s national sovereignty rights, so countries can do whatever they want to do in their own country. But obviously we don’t want to have agreements globally that set a tone. So we’re going to have to continue to advocate the importance of the global nature of the internet. And there’s a natural momentum where the world is becoming more interconnected, and the commercial opportunities are significant. So that’s where there’s a continued kind of momentum to keep negotiations going between countries, between network operators.
QUESTION: Thank you.
OPERATOR: Okay. Our next question is from John Eggerton with Broadcasting & Cable. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Yes, Ambassador. Can you identify any of the other countries you think might not sign, or is it just going to be the U.S.?
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Yeah, so there were several – after I made my statement, there were a variety of other nations that then started to share their views, their concerns about the treaty. And they were either acknowledging that they would not sign or they acknowledged they had significant reservations and wanted to talk to their capitals overnight, or they identified specific areas that they want to take a reservation on. And matter of fact, once I spoke, there was a variety of nations, and I’ll read them off to you here, and then we went to a break immediately afterwards.
So the countries that have already spoken and we’ll hear from more, but it is the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Denmark, Egypt, Sweden, Netherlands, Kenya, the Czech Republic, Canada, New Zealand, and Poland. And again, that was just the group that spoke before we went on a break. So we’ll know more after this. One of the reasons, obviously, that I put my statement out is we wanted to clearly signal that this is the United States position. There’s a lot of countries, as you can imagine, that are waiting to see where the U.S. comes out.
But on this issue, candidly, we are resolute on this. We had to go in understanding that we may have nobody else supporting us, because these issues are so fundamental. And fortunately, as I mentioned with that list of countries, a lot of other countries see the same issues we do.
QUESTION: All right. But that’s a mix. You don’t know which specifically have said they’re not going to sign; that’s a mix of all three of those?
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: That’s right. That’s right. But all of them – the tone in which they shared it were all concerns. There isn’t anybody in that group saying, “We love it.” They are all either going to be taking some sort of reservation or they’re going to not sign. I mean, it was pretty clear from their comments.
QUESTION: Okay. Thanks.
OPERATOR: Our next question is from Richard Waters with Financial Times. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Yes, hello. The fact that so many countries haven’t – sorry, are going to sign this suggests that – or does it suggest that actually the trend is away from the kind of open, free internet that you’ve been discussing here? And particularly if you bear in mind what happened at earlier conferences in 2003 and ‘5 where the kind of worst outcomes were headed off from your point of view, is what we’re seeing now a trend away from the kind of web and the internet that the U.S. would like? And what gives you the confidence to think that if things will swing around? You seem to be suggesting that when countries see the benefit of an open internet, they will adjust their point of view, but it seems to be exactly the opposite here, isn’t it?
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Yes. So first of all, we don’t know yet who’s going to vote in favor, because we won’t know, literally, till tomorrow on that. There could be a lot of countries that abstain, et cetera. So it’s, I think, premature for us to say who’s going to agree or not agree.
But a couple of things on this. A lot of the countries that are expressing points of view different than ours are newer and less experienced in the whole internet play. It’s a newer phenomenon. The penetration rates are still growing, et cetera. Many of them are dealing with political issues in their home countries where there’s political instability and there’s a different mindset to what the benefits of the internet bring. So the context, first of all, is very different in a lot of the countries that have expressed points of view different to ours.
The second comment, Richard, is, as you know, I’ve got a mobile background. I used to work with Vodafone. It is amazing as technology rolls from country to country how it looks in different places. It carries its own life and customizes to the local market. I actually think even more than the mobile sector, the internet looks different in different places from a content standpoint, an application standpoint, et cetera. And in turn, as that customization occurs, growth tends to increase. So I’m a fundamental believer over the long term you will see a lot more interest, economic activity, et cetera. Are there going to be political issues where certain countries don’t want free expression? Absolutely, but if you say over a long period of time, I think people will see a lot of the benefits, and this is a long game that we’re playing here.
QUESTION: But as more countries join the internet, as you say, it could be that they will change the internet rather than the internet changing them. So this just might be the way (inaudible) countries that have a different approach to the medium changing the internet.
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: I don’t know. I mean, it depends what you mean by changing the internet. If you mean they’re going to look to make it look different and customize it to their environment, then yeah, I would agree with you. If it’s governments are going to, on the long term, control the internet and decide what it looks and how, I don’t know that’s going to happen yet. Certainly, people talk about it in a futuristic way, but I’ve not seen kind of a concrete piece of it.
And take an example of Kenya. I think Kenya is a great example from the internet and mobile and they’re one of the supporters of our activity. They see a clear benefit in their society because it creates economic value, it reduces the digital divide, it creates more demand for services, it connects them with the world. And I think as you see more of those case examples of success, you get more and more people that say this is a good thing. And that’s, again, the long game that we see.
QUESTION: All right, thanks.
OPERATOR: Okay, our next question is from Joseph Menn with Reuters. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Hi, Ambassador. I wasn’t tracking all of it as well as I might have been, but it looked like 3.8, the addressing thing, came out, which seemed like a very clear stumbling block. If that’s right, then was the last straw the provision on countries pledging not to disconnect each other? Because if so, that sort of makes it look like the U.S. is an outlier and wants the ability to disconnect other countries in times of conflict.
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Yeah. So you know, candidly, there were several items that really were the things that turned this over. What was interesting about this negotiation is sometimes there’s this impression, well, you’re negotiating ten items; one or two matter a lot, and seven or eight are kind of moderate, they don’t matter a huge amount, you can give and take. In this negotiation, candidly, there’s like five, six, seven things that were huge issues that had a lot to do, again, with different aspects of controlling the internet, and any one of these would have been a trip for us, would have been us saying no, we don’t want to do this. And so when I read those off at the beginning of the call, each of those would have been a big issue.
So there was an internet resolution, as I mentioned. The internet resolution specifically talks about governance, about governments involved in governance of the internet. Now, what happened in the negotiations, they said, well, we’ll take that internet resolution, we’ll move it from the body of the articles which are binding in nature and they’ll move it to a resolution which is nonbinding. And they said, well, isn’t that great? The reality is it’s still in the ITRs and people are going to look at it and say the ITU and this WCIT conference got into internet governance. So that was a fundamental issue that would have tripped, again, our position.
The second one is on spam. There’s a provision on spam in this. And again, there was a lot of effort to try and water it down with saying we’re going to mitigate, the focus on content, et cetera. But at the end of the day, if you’re saying you want to reduce the spam problem, you’re getting into a content issue there. And somebody, especially if you’re talking amongst governments, you’re giving the government the right to look at those issues.
A third issue was the issue of security. When you put security mixed in here with the internet and content, again, you open the door for an organization to say, listen, in the quest of dealing with cyber security issues, I’m going to have to look at content and I’m going to make it okay to review that content. So again, there’s all these kind of circuitous ways to get into these things.
The final thing is just the agencies that are subject to this. We don’t want lack of clarity about the agencies that are subject to this. We’re very clear on this that public providers of telecomm services should be the ones that are affected but not any others, not private networks, not internet players, not cloud computing players, not government networks, et cetera. There’s a lot of players in this kind of converged world that, again, indirectly or directly could be subject to these regulations.
So candidly, the decision to do a no-sign – there wasn’t a lot of consternation on it. There were too many issues here that were problematic for us, and it made the decision clear.
QUESTION: Thank you.
OPERATOR: Our next question is from David Gewirtz with CBS Interactive. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Hi. This is David Gewirtz calling. So Ambassador, what happens now? Will other countries essentially route around the U.S. desires for an open net? Will this lead to what might essentially become two internets, one open and one closed?
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Well, we obviously hope that doesn’t happen here. And again, from my own technology and mobile background, there’s a natural momentum to players that have scale, that are first-movers, et cetera, that create lower costs, they create greater inoperability, et cetera. So there’s a natural, I think, bias or advantage to that. And that benefits, by the way – we talk about Richard’s question earlier about when technology rolls to successive markets, many of those later markets get the better end of the technology, because infrastructure costs come down, or handset costs come down, or unique contents available, et cetera, they get the benefit of it.
Now, if a country says, listen, I want to have a different standard, I’m going to have a different approach, then they can go proceed with that. Candidly, they could still do that under national sovereignty. But they’re going to have to deal, again, with a more and more interconnected environment. And so I think our job in all of this is to continue to espouse the benefits of an open internet, of free content, of low costs here, of all the things that entrepreneurs do with the internet. We have to keep advocating that, and that will create a natural bias or momentum in favor of it. And again, at the end of the day, if somebody wants to develop a different standard approach, it’s obviously that’s country’s prerogative. But we’re hoping that’s not an easy task.
QUESTION: Thank you.
OPERATOR: Okay. Our next question is from Grant Gross with IDG News Service. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Hello, Ambassador. Thanks for taking our calls. Kind of following up on that, what is the danger of this kind of resolution now as you see it coming out? What problems could it cause, even with the U.S. and the UK and other countries not adopting it?
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Well, so I don’t see a lot of near-term or intermediate-term risks here, because it’s not a legally binding document. It doesn’t carry that risk. I think we’ve also maintained good relationships and enough kind of openness that companies that do business abroad have got a good environment.
I do think that it does set up for a much more direct conversation that’s going to have to happen on multi-stakeholder governance, that that is really the only model that’s been proven to be effective, where, again, you’ve got civil society and industry and others there addressing fundamental internet issues. And in turn, multi-stakeholder organizations are going to have to continue to focus on outreach and being global in nature.
And if you – there’s issues in Africa. A lot of our African colleagues here are saying, listen, we’ve got cyber issues; we need help with that. Then we need to make sure there are multi-stakeholder organizations available to help then with those issues. The United States, in addition, does a variety of bilaterals with individual countries to help them with their own cyber work and other issues related to the internet.
But again, our fundamental view on this thing is you’ve got to be pragmatic. No one government can solve fundamental issues and deal with the internet, so you’ve got to have that expertise, that agility. And importantly, you’ve got to be customized in your approach.
So again, to bring up the cyber security issue, when you ask a lot of countries what is the cyber security issue, at the end of the day, it’s heavily a regional issue; it’s not a global issue. There’s kind of one or two countries there are cyber issues with. So then you kind of ask the question, well, why exactly would you want to put terms in a global agreement on cyber. And there’s not a very good answer.
So the net net of all this is we need to continue to advance the argument and the benefits of multi-stakeholder organizations. We need to put a lot of energy into the effectiveness of those organizations and make sure we continue to kind of build that global opportunity. So I think that’s the charter going forward. And again, coming from the mobile industry, I’ve seen that in my own life with the associations and standards bodies that work very well in that environment. So I do think it will happen. It’s just a period of time.
OPERATOR: Okay. Our next question is from Adam Popescu with ReadWrite.com. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Hi, Mr. Ambassador. Thanks for your time. A lot of my questions have already been answered by my peers, but going forward, what I’m – what I understand from what you’re saying is because of the fact that other nations are going to be putting forth a lot of this stuff in terms of the ROA versus OA, basically my question is, sort of dovetailing on one of the last questions about the two internets, are we going to see a different view of a certain site for international, when they’re here in the U.S.? And what’s going to happen globally? And you mentioned January 2015 as the day when these are supposed to take effect, so maybe you could speak on that a little bit.
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Yeah. So first of all, I mean on a second internet, again, anything is possible. And you see on the content side there are social media sites, for example, in Russia that are unique in Russia. But again, what happens in this space, as you know – take a Facebook, right, with over a billion users. There’s a natural advantage to having that type of user base globally. And that creates a momentum for that to spread further.
So I think, again, with the momentum that’s going on, that it’s kind of a natural that having some unique standard and setup somewhere else is going to be an easy task. There’s countries, again, in the mobile space that have tried to set up a different standard for 3G, 4G, the latest network technologies – very difficult to pull off. So I don’t know necessarily there’s some ulterior motive at this point. We’re seeing some nation want create some new effort. But we are going to need to continue to do this global outreach so we don’t inadvertently allow a Balkanization of the internet.
And in terms of the January 15th date, nothing happens until then. And there’s a lot of activities and conferences that are going to happen between now and January of 2015. So a lot of different reviews are going to happen. And candidly, in these situations a lot of people may have buyer’s remorse. It’s interesting; even when we do our bilats, et cetera, there are a lot of nations that are still kind of getting their head around what the internet is, the opportunity, what are the issues with spam, and what are the issues with roaming related to this et cetera. And that’s been the benefit of this conference and our bilaterals, is we can have that discussion with people. And I think from that information, that education, you get a much better outcome. And I think people will come to the conclusion that multi-stakeholder governance is the right approach.
QUESTION: One quick follow-up question: When is the next major internet conference where we can kind of take up some of these matters?
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Well, there’s WTPF, a policy forum that’s in May of next year. So that’s going to be a place where some internet issues will be discussed. There’s an IGF, an Internet Governance Forum meeting that’s every year. I think their – it’s tentatively targeted for Indonesia next year in the fall. So these happen literally every few months or so. But again, what we don’t want to see is have these in the form of a treaty negotiating conference. There’s a huge amount to be done in best practice sharing, and fora that talk about ideas and approaches, but just not setting up regulations.
QUESTION: And then my final question: Is this conference, then, and the fact that we’re not signing, is this a failure?
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Not at all. It’s an interesting question, because I would talk with our U.S. delegation – success – and we always set this out with the goals of our delegation in the U.S. effort. Our end goal here is to create an environment where we can say there’s going to be success for the internet and telecom. And it is so easy in this setting here where you’re dealing with a lot of technical rules and regulations, you’re dealing with other regulators here, et cetera, to lose sight of the plot in life. The plot here is to make sure that these sectors do well. And if you can’t definitively say that an ITR is going to help that future of success, then you shouldn’t put the ITR in. You shouldn’t put regulation in.
So I very much look at this – this is success. We’ve had a chance in this conference to communicate what success, we think, looks like, the importance of the internet globally. There’s been a connection between different countries and different people, et cetera, that I think all of that is a benefit. And on any issue that you have that’s a deep kind of philosophical or technical issue, you don’t have kind of one conversation and people’s minds change. It happens over a period of time. It happens when you can point to success. It happens when you can say, look at what’s happened in Kenya with broadband and the internet. Look what’s happened in India with mobile penetration. You start pointing to success, and people say, “Now I know this isn’t some theoretical, philosophical argument. This is a model that works.” And so I think those things will happen. I’m optimistic about it. But it’s the beginning of several steps. And so I do think this was a success, and there are going to be more of them.
QUESTION: Thank you.
OPERATOR: Our next question is from Cyrus Farivar with ARS Technica. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Hello Mr. Ambassador, and thank you very much for my taking question. I had two questions. First of all, I’m wondering – you talked about how the United States is not going to be supporting these agreements. I’m wondering why these agreements are even necessary in the first place. As you know, and I think as pretty much all of my colleagues know, lots of countries out there already conduct their own national internets to varying degrees. I’m talking most notably of China, Iran, certainly North Korea, that has probably the most restrictive internet policy of anyone in the world. So I wonder: Why are these even kind of national-based agreements even necessary to begin with when this practice is already going on? That’s my first question.
And then my second question is: I’m wondering what was the role of lobbying to your delegation, particularly by corporations such as Google and particularly by prominent internet technical experts, like Vint Cerf, who, as you know, was the architect of some of the fundamental foundations of the protocols behind the internet itself.
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Yeah. No. Great questions. So first of all, on your first question on the global nature, you’re absolutely right. Countries have national sovereignty rights, so they can do what they want. But what we don’t want over time is a set of global agreements that people can point to and say, listen, this treaty gave us the right to impose these terms on global operators of some sort. Now, again, we don’t’ think that’s going to happen with this per se because it’s a normative approach, it’s not legally binding. But you sure don’t want to kind of just allow something to happen that people can think is a binding term on an increasingly global environment. So that’s why we don’t want it to happen.
Our argument specifically on the ITU is the ITU does great work in a lot of the radio areas, in spectrum work, in coordination work, they do a lot of great work in developing markets, et cetera. But in the internet, it’s not the charter. It’s not the place. It’s not going to be able to do the things that are going to really add value. And so that’s why we say, continue with the ITU and interact with a lot of other delegates, but make sure it’s on the right topics.
Now your second question – you said “lobbying.” It’s a good question, but I’ll rephrase it. It’s not lobbying per se. We had – have a delegation here of 100 representatives, roughly 50 from U.S. Government that are people from State Department, FCC, Commerce Department, Department of Defense, et cetera. We had about 40 people from industry, industry being either internet players or telecom players, and then another 10 people or so that were members of civil society. Their job as delegates is not to lobby. They – as a matter of fact they have to sign an agreement that says they’re representing national interests.
So what we did is put them to work in a couple of areas. Number one is to be subject matter experts about what does the internet look like in these different places, what are the challenges and security issues going forward, why is spam being discussed here, et cetera. And they – the industry provided very, very helpful insights, positions, et cetera, that informed our positions more broadly on a national basis.
A lot of that thought process, thought leadership was then used in our bilaterals to work with other countries. And when I said that’s the real benefit of this conference, we had some great discussions. The second piece of their work as members of industry, civil society, et cetera, was to do outreach. And the beauty of outreach when you get in this setting is you’re able to talk to a lot of different countries, a lot of different players, and share the points of view. And that’s been a huge benefit of our delegation.
But finally I’ll say – and I don’t know if you call – it’s a bit of the irony of all this is we – people said, “Geez, you guys have a large delegation.” The fact we had a large delegation with the type of engagement we had is the beauty of our system – is you have a lot of people that are taking their ideas – some of them are their own self-interest, but a lot of it is much broader than that, and they’re contributing to a greater outcome here. And as I did bilaterals with other nations, it was interesting how many countries I would go to where a member of industry or civil society said, could you tell my government this, this and this? And I said, well, isn’t there a delegation in their own country sharing it? Well, the reality is a lot of countries don’t have that type of inclusive nature. Certainly the democratic ones do, but there are a lot of ones that aren’t. And it was a very stark message to me of exactly what we’re talking about when we talk about multi-stakeholder governance and how you collect the best wisdom and energy to create something bigger. So a long-winded answer to your question, but that – those representatives were a very essential part of our delegation.
QUESTION: Thank you.
OPERATOR: Okay. Our next question is from David McAuley with Bloomberg BNA. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Thank you. Ambassador Kramer, my questions, too, have been answered, but let me ask this: What will happen to the U.S. delegation now and to your role between now and, let’s say, WTPF in May? And what are the U.S. plans going forward between now and January of 2015?
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Yeah. Thank you, David. And so a couple of things. People will all go into their own worlds again in the coming weeks and months. So our delegation – obviously a lot of them are in civil society or industry, et cetera. They’ll, obviously, go back into that. I’ll eventually go back into probably academia and the work that I was doing before, and maybe industry again. You never know.
But importantly, what should be happening in the next month or two is what are the learnings from the conference, what are the implications going forward, how do we advance multi-stakeholder governance. All of those things, I think, are going to be very, very helpful. And I think, again, to the earlier question about was this successful, there’s a lot of success in understanding points of view of other nations, of really honing in on our arguments, and importantly how do you advance these ideas about liberalized markets and about multi-stakeholder governance. So the next couple of months, my mind is going to be on that and sharing insights as well as a lot of my colleagues.
QUESTION: Thank you.
OPERATOR: Next question comes from Jennifer Martinez, The Hill. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi. Thanks so much for taking my call. Appreciate it. You’ve kind of touched on this in previous questions, so apologies if this is somewhat of a repeat. But with the countries that are signing the ITRs, I guess, would they be treating a company like Google or Facebook differently in the future, or is it too early to tell, since the treaty hasn’t gone into effect yet?
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Yeah. I think it’s too early to tell. A lot of the countries that would sign, that would have policies very different than ours, are already creating a very different environment. So I don’t think that’s likely to happen near term. And again, I think from a legally binding standpoint, these ITRs don’t have teeth in them. But I do think we have to continually be vigilant on this issue about not erecting barriers.
And some of the arguments on this, Jennifer, it’s interesting. You may have governments that have different political views than us. They may have different practices on censorship, et cetera. But many of them are fundamentally concerned about commercial issues. They want to see commerce; they want to see people using the internet effectively, et cetera. And so there’s always that argument that helps advance keeping the internet free and open.
So that’s kind of the mindset from here. And again, I don’t expect any big change in any of this. But we are going to have a continued effort to make sure this multi-stakeholder model and the global opportunity is made clear.
MODERATOR: All right. We have time for one more question.
OPERATOR: Okay. Last question comes from Josh Peterson, The Daily Caller.
QUESTION: Hi, Ambassador. Thank you for your time and thank you for taking my question. I just wanted to go back and talk a little bit about what brought the proceedings to a vote. Because from what I understand, the event operates on consensus, but – and a vote was unlikely. So what was it that prompted this to happen?
AMBASSADOR KRAMER: Well, so first of all, what happened last night and what also happened this evening is there was an indication of interest. People hold up placards. They did one vote, I think, later on to try and move things along. So some of what’s happening is the views on these issues are so heartfelt and so significant, and it slowed down a lot of the negotiations. I mean, here we are Thursday night, and it’s almost midnight here, and people are still trying to work away.
So the chairman has really tried to move things along. And one of the tools was to do this vote on the human rights element. But in general, they’ve tried to really stick to consensus. So I don’t feel, per se, that this indication of interest or a nominal vote has been the big issue. I think the bigger issue is there’s a variety of nations out there that do hold different views than our own, and we’re going to have to continue to engage so that we don’t find that that continues to be an area of disagreement.
MODERATOR: All right. Well, thank you, everyone, for joining us this evening. And as a reminder, we will not be having another call. This was our press briefing that we had mentioned in our media note previously. Thank you, everyone. Have a good night.