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 articles posted 12/09/05

Who Should Control the Internet?

Thursday, November 10, 2005
By Liza Porteus

NEW YORK  A battle over the Internet is brewing.

The United Nations next week will hold the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunisia, at which national representatives will discuss strategies to bridge the "digital divide" and harness information and communication technologies.

But many observers say the meeting is really about control of the Internet.

The Internet is currently run by a non-governmental organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), established by the United States in 1998 to take over activities that had been performed for 30 years by professor Jon Postel in California.

ICANN manages the current domain-registration system, which means it decides who gets Web addresses ending in ".com," ".net," or ".info," as well as which governmental entities operate national country-code suffixes, such as ".uk" for Great Britain. ICANN also runs the up-to-12-digit Internet Protocol (IP) numbers that every computer needs to have in order to be recognized by others on the Internet. Since only about 4 billion IP numbers can currently be accommodated, it has to make sure there's no duplication. According to ICANN, the Internet is in use by over 1 billion people. About 76 million second-level domain names such as "foxnews.com" have been registered and 2 billion IP addresses have been allocated.

The Internet was developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s by the U.S. military and American universities under the auspices of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.The European Union has blasted ICANN, withdrawn its support from the domain-registration system and called for giving other countries control of it.

ICANN's attempt at privatization and self-governance three years ago was unsuccessful, so the United States decided to hold on to it a little bit longer. ICANN currently operates under the loose direction of the U.S. Department of Commerce. That contract expires next year. At the WSIS summit next week, countries such as Brazil, China, Cuba, and Iran are expected to call for the creation of an international body to govern the Internet. Nations such as Libya and Rwanda are among others supporting more U.N. participation in ICANN. They mainly want what the EU is calling a "new cooperation model" essentially multi-governmental oversight of ICANN.

... But the United States and some other governments, while acknowledging ICANN isn't perfect and some kinks need to be worked out, are worried that internationalization could threaten the Internet's ability to serve as a medium of free expression. They fear it would subject the Internet to censorship by countries that are also U.N. members.

... "In advocating greater government involvement in governance of the Internet, the European Union has pleased countries like China, Iran, Syria and Cuba, but left the U.S., Canada, Japan and other democratic countries agog," Harris Miller, president of the ITAA, said in a statement. "In attempting to act as an advocate for developing nations, the EU has instead done little more than compromise its own common sense."

...Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who is in charge of the Senate's investigation into the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal, said the Internet governance plan to give the U.N. more control smacks of anti-Americanism.

"You may be angry with us about the war in Iraq, but we are not going to let you take over the Internet. You can't do that," Coleman said. "We can't allow concern that folks may have about other things that the U.S. does and doesn't do to really have the great potential for strangling this expansive vehicle for new growth and new opportunities."

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In short, CENSORSHIP is their agenda and CENSORSHIP will be a reality soon. I don't see much happening with this article, but I expect the subject to come up again and again until the politicians (Roman puppets) are moved to do something.

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