Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The two-week Internet conference in Dubai that started Monday has become a battleground between search engine giant Google and the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Google has run an online campaign opposing the conference, wherein the ITU plans to impose regulation of the web and other amendments to outdated telecommunications rules. The U.S. IT firm claimed to have gathered more than one million supporters, including 1,000 organizations, according to Bill Echikson, head of Google's free expression for the Middle East and Africa.
The European Union is backing Google through a parliament resolution criticizing the ITU.
Mohamed Al Ghanim, director general of the United Arab Emirate's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and chair of the conference, fired back at Google accusing it of abuse of power. He said Google cannot fool online consumers and manipulate people.
Google is opposing a plan by Arab and European telecoms operators to charge content providers like Google for using their networks.
The vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google, Vinton Cerf, warned last week that the move will result in higher Internet costs to the detriment of developing countries. Online businesses will also have to pay every network provider in the world, he added.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the conference aims to give Internet access to two-thirds of the world's population that are not connected.
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