TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: UN Panel Fails to Agree on How to Govern Internet

UN Panel Fails to Agree on How to Govern Internet

Irwin Arieff (
Thu, 14 Jul 2005 19:27:46 -0500

UN panel fails to agree on how to govern Internet
By Irwin Arieff

A group set up by the United Nations to come up with a global plan for
managing the Internet said on Thursday that it has been unable to
agree on who should do the job or how it should be done.

The Working Group on Internet Governance instead came up with four
rival models for overseeing the Web and sorting out technical and
public policy questions.

In a report to be submitted to the World Summit on the Information
Society in Tunis in November, the group also proposed creation of a
permanent forum to carry on the debate.

To understand the problem, "you must recognize that the Internet was
set up largely by academicians for limited use, but has grown beyond
anyone's wildest expectations, with nearly one billion users today,"
Markus Kummer, the working group's executive coordinator, said in a
telephone interview.

At issue for the world body is who runs the Internet and how it can
better serve the world.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has long pressed industry,
government and private interest groups to try to narrow the "digital
divide" and ensure that people in poor nations have greater access to
the Internet.

The Internet is now loosely managed by various groups. The Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), for example,
manages the domain name system and is under the control of the
U.S. government.

Helping set technical standards are the International
Telecommunication Union, an international organization; the
private-sector-led Internet Engineering Task Force, and the
academia-oriented W3C.

Among the governance options put forward by the group were a
continuation of the current system, creation of a world body to
address public policy issues stemming from the work of ICANN, and
creation of a body to address a broader range of public policy issues.

The fourth option is to create three bodies, one to address policy
issues, one for oversight and one for global coordination.

The group also recommended a coordinated global effort to combat spam,
or junk e-mails, which they agreed now comprises about 90 percent of
all email, and urged that law enforcement authorities respect the
right to freedom of expression when they crack down on
Internet-related crimes.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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