Brussels, BELGIUM — As a UN intergovernmental body considers internet-enabled applications, the Computer & Communications Industry Association expressed concern about it expanding its mandate. CCIA has submitted comments to the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Open Consultation on the “Public Policy considerations for OTTs”.

The ITU has for decades sought to ensure access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) to underserved communities worldwide, and its expertise is in international, technical standards development and spectrum coordination. However, CCIA voiced concerns that the ITU would be acting well beyond its mandate and core competencies if it were to expand its work to include internet-enabled applications, like so-called Rich Interaction Applications (RIAs). RIAs are applications that facilitate “rich interaction” such as photo and video sharing, money transferring, in-app gaming, location sharing, translation, and chat among individuals, groups and enterprises.   

Global GDP has increased U.S. $5.6 trillion for every ten percent increase in the usage of RIAs across 164 countries over 16 years (2000 to 2015) the German research institute, WIK, (Wissenschaftliches Institut für Infrastruktur und Kommunikationsdienste) recently found.   The WIK study further predicts that the innovation around new and existing RIAs will continue at exponential pace.  However, these economic and societal benefits would be put at great risk if an international body like the ITU, or national governments, sought to impose regulations that are ill-suited to these emerging applications.

The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe Vice President Christian Borggreen:

“Consumers benefit from the emergence of new internet-enabled Rich Interaction Applications (RIAs).

“Instead of raising regulatory barriers, the ITU and governments around the world should promote innovation and let consumers choose from a diverse range of online applications. RIAs are constantly evolving and completely different from telecommunication services, so any ill conceived regulations would almost immediately be antiquated, stifle innovation and limit consumer choice.”

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