Uh-Oh!!!

John A. Quayle Boss302 at LOCALNET.COM
Thu Nov 13 21:03:02 MST 2003


Plan for UN to run internet 'will be shelved'
By Frances Williams in Geneva
Published: November 9 2003 21:19 | Last Updated: November 9 2003 21:19

         An attempt by developing countries to put management of the
internet under United Nations auspices is likely to be shelved at next
month's world information summit in Geneva - but the issue is now firmly on
the international agenda, summit sources say.

         It will be one of the main bones of contention this week as
government negotiators and non-governmental organizations descend on Geneva
for the final round of preparatory talks on the draft declaration and plan
of action due to be endorsed by heads of state and government at the summit
on December 10-12.

         However, UN officials say they see no compromise emerging. They
expect governments to decide instead to continue talks on internet
governance with the aim of reaching accord by 2005, when the second stage
of the two-part summit is due to take place in Tunisia.

         "They're no longer going to try to agree on this," a UN official
said last week.

         Poorer nations such as Brazil, India, South Africa, China and
Saudi Arabia, as well as some richer ones, are growing dissatisfied with
the workings of California-based Icann (the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers), the semi-private internet address regulator
set up five years ago.

         The critics argue that the internet is a public resource that
should be managed by national governments and, at an international level,
by an intergovernmental body such as the International Telecommunications
Union, the UN agency that is organising the information summit.

         However, the US and the European Commission are staunchly
defending the Icann model, which is based on minimal regulation and
commercial principles. Icann members are predominantly drawn from
industrialized countries and the established internet community.

         Defenders of the status quo say handing over power to governments
could threaten the untrammelled flow of information and ideas that many see
as the very essence of the borderless internet.

         But these arguments appear to be losing force against the
emergence of new challenges such as unwanted advertising ("spam"), privacy
and security worries, hate speech and child pornography, which have
convinced many governments of the need for international regulation and
enforcement.

         The question of internet governance, which erupted at a relatively
late stage in the preparatory summit negotiations, is just one of many
issues negotiators must try to resolve this week. Rich and poor countries
are also at odds over creation of a "digital solidarity fund" that would
finance investment to bridge the "digital divide" in access to information
and communications technologies.

         Other unresolved disputes concern the balance between intellectual
property protection and access to information, the role of the media, and
acceptable boundaries to freedom of expression.
<http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1066565743698&p=1012571727102>http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1066565743698&p=1012571727102


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