US Will Keep Control Of Internet

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An agreement was reached at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, Tunisia late Tuesday night whereby the United States, through quasi-independent Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), will remain in control of the Internet’s root servers and addressing system.

Though the European Union and countries like Pakistan, Iran, Tunisia, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil called for the US to cede control of the Internet to an international body like the United Nations during a heated September summit in Geneva, negotiators from the 173 countries in attendance agreed the US should retain governance.

US representatives called the Geneva proposal to turn over Internet governance to the UN “unacceptable.”

Negotiators finally agree at a late night meeting to create an international forum for bringing concerns and input to ICANN. The forum will have no binding authority.

ICANN chief and Australian-native Paul Twomey felt the strong calling for the US to loosen its grip on the Internet was largely due to building animosity toward US interests.

“If the Internet had been developed in Australia, I don’t think we would have had so much heat on this discussion,” said Twomey.

The tiff over Internet governance was solved early in the 3-day summit to avoid overshadowing the intended purpose of the summit, which was to address the worldwide “digital divide” where the poorest areas of the world still lack access to the Worldwide Web.

In addition to input, the US also called for investment from other countries to better expand the Internet’s reach to poorer areas of the world.

Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union, Yoshio Utsumi expects the initiative to be accomplished by 2015, connecting some 800,000 villages that are without access to the Internet.

“In order to connect these villages we need about $1 billion,” Mr Utsumi said. “Every year about $100 billion is invested in the mobile telephone system, so only 1 per cent of this amount is needed to achieve the target.”

Another issue facing the summit is freedom of access and expression, which is especially lacking in some of the countries that were the chief critics of the US’ refusal to turn over the Internet to international governance.

EU commissioner for information society and media, Viviane Reding, agreed the international forum created at the summit was a step in the right direction for addressing issues of democracy and freedom.

“This agreement was possible because of the strong belief of all democratic nations that enhanced international cooperation is the best way to make progress towards guaranteeing the freedom of the Internet around the globe and also to enhance transparency and accountability in decisions affecting the architecture of the Web,” she said.

The forum, called the Internet Governance Forum, is scheduled to begin operations in 2006 at a meeting opened by UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

US Will Keep Control Of Internet
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