The United Nations agency that oversees global telephony International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is meeting Dec. 3-14 in Dubai – but for the first time, the focus is on the Internet.
And a quick move by the ITU World Conference on International Communications, in which some 190 member nations allegedly are voting, has ignited rage among hackers and bloggers.
According to the Center for Democracy & Technology, ITU “has quietly endorsed the standardization of technologies that could give governments and companies the ability to sift through all of an Internet user's traffic – including emails, banking transactions and voice calls – without adequate privacy safeguards.”
As a result, the loosely organized “hacktivist” group known as “Anonymous” is reportedly planning to attack the ITU's website. Discussions in online chat rooms used by Anonymous hackers indicate a cyber attack in indeed on the agenda to test the agency's mettle – and to express the group's rage.
"They have apparently agreed – behind closed doors – on 'requirements for deep packet inspection (DPI) in next generation networks' which resulted in a (proprietary, non-public) standard they call Y.2770, and this is what really bothers me,” explained a hacker source who spoke with Arutz Sheva about the issue Sunday afternoon on condition of anonymity.
"As we've noted several times before, depending on how it is used, DPI has the potential to be extremely privacy invasive, to defy user expectations, and to facilitate wiretapping,” confirmed CDT.
"These are people who have not met for nearly 25 years – and now suddenly they decide it's time to get together and decide that the private envelope passing from one end of the world to the other can no longer be private,” the private hacker source fumed. “Not only do they appoint for themselves the right to look at the outside of the envelope, but they also grant for themselves – and others – the right to look inside as well. On whose authority? By which democratic vote? And who will oversee those who do the looking?”
Internet search engine giant Google has already begun gathering signatures online to block any such move.
Another well-known Internet browser, Mozilla, was equally disturbed. “Whether the Internet is regulated by governmental treaties via the ITU and to what extent, is a vitally critical question,” Mozilla wrote in a blog on its website. “In fact, it is so critical it can't be done behind closed doors. The Internet as we know it today is just too fundamental to our lives to leave it to governments to decide its fate.”
The ITU, formed in 1865, last met in 1988. It allocates radio spectrum and satellite orbits, develops technical standards, and works to advance connectivity at the global level. It is the oldest agency at the U.N., with 193 member countries and more than 700 total members that include private sector companies, academic institutions and NGOs.
Kaspersky Lab recently issued a warning about precisely such threats in its latest security forecast: “Society's increasing reliance on the Internet makes organizations of all kinds potentially vulnerable to attacks of this sort (Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS attacks -ed.), so hacktivism looks set to continue into 2013 and beyond.”