TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: EU Wants Shared Control of Internet

EU Wants Shared Control of Internet

Aoife White (
Sat, 1 Oct 2005 12:39:13 -0500

By AOIFE WHITE, AP Business Writer

The European Union insisted Friday that governments and the private
sector must share the responsibility of overseeing the Internet,
setting the stage for a showdown with the United States on the future
of Internet governance.

A senior U.S. official reiterated Thursday that the country wants to
remain the Internet's ultimate authority, rejecting calls in a United
Nations meeting in Geneva for a U.N. body to take over.

EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said a new cooperation model was important
"because the Internet is a global resource."

"The EU ... is very firm on this position," he added.

The Geneva talks were the last preparatory meeting before November's
World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia.

A stalemate over who should serve as the principal traffic cops for
Internet routing and addressing could derail the summit, which aims to
ensure a fair sharing of the Internet for the benefit of the whole

At issue is who would have ultimate authority over the Internet's
master directories, which tell Web browsers and e-mail programs how to
direct traffic.

That role has historically gone to the United States, which created
the Internet as a Pentagon project and funded much of its early
development. The U.S. Commerce Department has delegated much of that
responsibility to a U.S.-based private organization with international
board members, but Commerce ultimately retains veto power.

Some countries have been frustrated that the United States and
European countries that got on the Internet first gobbled up most of
the available addresses required for computers to connect, leaving
developing nations with a limited supply to share.

They also want greater assurance that as they come to rely on the
Internet more for governmental and other services, their plans won't
get derailed by some future U.S. policy.

Policy decisions could at a stroke make all Web sites ending in a
specific suffix essentially unreachable. Other decisions could affect
the availability of domain names in non-English characters or ones
dedicated to special interests such as pornography.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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