Hacker Groups Interrupt Access to ITU Website During WCIT-12 (12/6/12)
Thursday, December 06, 2012 | Comments

Communications with one of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) websites was interrupted Dec. 5, interfering with external access to the main ITU site and disrupting the late meeting of Working Group 1 of Committee 5, the substantive working committee of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12), which began this week.

Some hacker groups are claiming responsibility, an ITU statement said.

As a contingency measure, network traffic was redirected to a backup website hosted in another geographical region. ITU has noted a significant increase in network traffic generated by the worldwide attention around WCIT-12, and in particular, the public interest in conference documents and webcasts of conference proceedings. Some performance degradation was experienced for two hours before normal operation was restored.

The incident blocked civil society, media and other interested parties from following the proceedings, and prevented access to the information on the ITU’s WCIT home page and newsroom.

WCIT-12 is a paperless conference, with delegates able to access the updated versions of all texts via an online platform. While further technical measures have been put in place to ensure the online system continues to function, the conference can revert to paper processing if necessary, to ensure discussions proceed according to the tight timetable set for negotiation of the new treaty, ITU officials said.

WCIT-12 conference is being held to renegotiate the international telecommunication regulations (ITRs), a binding global treaty that facilitates global interconnection and interoperability of information and communication services. The event is taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

ITU Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun Touré said threats made against the conference by cyber criminal groups fly in the face of the principles of freedom of expression and unfettered access to information that the WCIT-12 conference has been at pains to defend. “It is ironic that the very people who claim to be fighting for a free Internet are preventing those around the world trying to follow the event online from getting access,” he said. “Do they believe in one rule for them, and one for everyone else?”

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