Wednesday, November 16, 2005

UN Info Summit Reaches Compromise on Internet Governance

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post on the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia.

CNET is reporting that delegates reached a last-minute compromise over the issue of who controls the Internet domain name system. Under the deal, the U.S. government will not have to relinquish influence over the master list of top-level domain names -- such as .com, .org, and country codes. However, everyone agreed to set up a new Internet Governance Forum. That forum will start meeting in 2006 under United Nations auspices to discuss issues ranging from online crime to spam.

The European Union did vow that it will keep pushing for more international control of the domain-name system in post-summit meetings. The U.S. has argued that such control would create an international bureaucracy that would stifle innovation and create uncertainty. As the New York Times explains: "The United States maintained that diluting the authority of the body that now manages the Internet address structure, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as Icann, could jeopardize the stability and security of the global network. Icann is a California-based nonprofit group that is answerable to the Commerce Department."

The head of the International Telecommunications Union, the U.N. body sponsoring the summit, did comment that the increased attention to the issue of Internet governance would create pressure on the United States to manage the domain-name system more responsibly.

Finally, law professor Michael Geist from the University of Ottawa suggests that "the deal may not be as great for the U.S. as the current spin suggests".


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:15 pm


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