subject: Net power struggle nears climax posted: Tue, 11 Oct 2005 09:56:44 +0100
[I am a little worried about this - ICANN does suck, but can you
imagine the internet being run by the EU? I'm getting quite tired of
all this childish squabbling over resources. The concept of
nationhood is so tragically quaint. When will the world realise that
the future is together, or not at all? Or is that expecting too much
of these desperate, IQ-impaired animals? - Stu]
Net power struggle nears climax
By Alfred Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website
US administration coming under worldwide pressure over the net
It is seen as arrogant and determined to remain the sheriff of the
world wide web, regardless of whatever the rest of the world may
It has even lost the support of the European Union. It stands alone
as the divisive battle over who runs the internet heads for a
showdown at a key UN summit in Tunisia next month.
The stakes are high, with the European Commissioner responsible for
the net, Viviane Reding, warning of a potential web meltdown.
"The US is absolutely isolated and that is dangerous," she said
during a briefing with journalists in London.
"Imagine the Brazilians or the Chinese doing their own internet. That
would be the end of the story.
"I am very much afraid of a fragmented internet if there is no
Brokering the peace
The UN has been wrestling over who should run the internet for a
number of years. It was one of the issues which divided nations at
the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva two
The second phase of the UN conference is due to take place in Tunisia
Currently a California-based group called the Internet Cooperation
for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) is the nearest thing to a
The private company was set up by the US Department of Commerce to
oversee the domain name and addressing systems, such as country
domain suffixes. It manages how net browsers and e-mail programs
Icann was to gain its independence from the Department of Commerce by
September 2006. But in July the US said it would "maintain its
historic role in authorising changes or modifications to the
authoritative root zone file."
America's determination to remain the ultimate purveyor of the
internet has angered other countries which believe it is time to come
up with a new way of regulating the digital traffic of the 21st
In the face of opposition from countries such as China, Iran and
Brazil, and several African nations, the US is now isolated ahead of
November's UN summit.
The row threatens to overshadow talks on other issues such bringing
more people online and tackling spam e-mail.
America's traditional ally, Europe, has been left trying to find a
way of brokering the peace.
"There is a problem as many parts of the world don't like the fact
that one country is linked to the organism that technically rules the
internet," said Commissioner Reding. "Many countries would like a
On the table are European proposals for some kind of international
forum to discuss principles for running the internet.
The EU does not intend to scrap Icann. It would continue in its
current technical role.
Instead Europe is suggesting a way of allowing countries to express
their position on internet issues, though the details on how this
would happen are vague.
"We have no intention to regulate the internet," said Commissioner
Reding, reassuring the US that the EU was not proposing setting up a
new global body.
Rather she talked of a "model of cooperation", of an international
forum to discuss the internet.
Her carefully chosen form of words may help assuage a Bush
administration which is vehemently opposed to any kind of
international body to govern the internet.
"I am sure we will find a solution in interests of the internet,"
said Mrs Reding. "We think we could have an agreement on what's on