TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Negotiators Change Internet Governance Text

Negotiators Change Internet Governance Text

Associated Press News Wire (
Tue, 15 Nov 2005 12:45:49 -0600

Negotiators seeking to avert a U.S.-EU showdown at this week's
U.N. summit on the information society watered down language on the
Internet's governance in talks Tuesday.

U.S. officials considered the vague language a signal that world
leaders would ultimately agree to leaving the U.S. Commerce Department
ultimately in charge of the Internet's addressing system.

"We're waiting until they pass something we can accept," said
U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Michael Gallagher.

Diplomats are eager to reach agreement before Wednesday's start of the
World Summit on the Information Society, which is scheduled to last
through Friday.

The summit was originally conceived to address the digital divide --
the gap between information haves and have-nots -- by raising both
consciousness and funds for projects.

Instead, it has centered largely around Internet governance: oversight
of the main computers that control traffic on the Internet by acting
as its master directories so Web browsers and e-mail programs can find
other computers.

That job is handled by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers, or ICANN, a powerful group that ultimately answers to the
U.S. government.

Since the latest round of talks began Sunday, the specific wording of
the summit's draft declaration has evolved from "international
management of the Internet," written by Pakistan, to far less specific

"We're two-thirds of our way to a good compromise," EU spokesman
Martin Selmayr said.

The EU has been mediating between the United States and a group of
countries including China and Iran that have sought to replace ICANN
with a multi-country group under U.N. auspices.

Washington set a course for confrontation when it declared in June
that it will retain such oversight indefinitely, despite what many
countries thought was a longstanding policy to one day completely turn
the function over to ICANN as a new, independent technical agency of the
United Nations.

The EU responded in September by insisting that some sort of new
combination of governments and the private sector share the responsibility
of policing the Internet. EU is asking for a 'neutral management of
the internet'.

Already, rights watchdogs say, both Tunisian and foreign reporters on
hand for the summit have been harassed and beaten. Reporters Without
Borders says its secretary-general, Robert Menard, has been banned
from attending at the insistence of ICANN and the United States.

Civil groups also accused the government Tuesday of blocking access
within Tunisia to a Web site devoted to a citizens' summit held in
conjunction with the main U.N. event.

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Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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