Sunday, October 23, 2005

Washington lawmakers demand that US retain internet web control

Yesterday, My buddy Ehsan whose contribution to my newsroom I have always appreciated and a computer engineer by trade, let me know about the upcoming World Summit on Information Society in Tunisia and the ongoing argument on whether the United States should continue to control the world's domain system. I thought you'd get a much better grasp on the story by first hearing from the man himself:
Kash, I just want to bring something quite important to your attention. Next Month's WSIS summit in Tunisia, is focused on the Internet domain name system control body. Some countries are already voicing complaints over the current US-controlled domain system arguing that a body like the UN should gain control of the system. This is a very dangerous proposition as content censorship and denial of the freedom of speech could become commonplace even outside of the borders of undemocratic regimes. Also, a body like the UN could act very slowly and sluggishly in an area which requires dynamicism.This I think is an issue you should care to mention on your news corner and bring us all up to date with developments both on the position of the US government and the proceedings of the upcoming WSIS summit in Tunisia.FYI, please take a look at the following CNN report.
The report Ehsan has linked to refers to the talks at the end of September in Geneva, in which --according to news reports--the European Union parted with the U.S. by calling for the creation of a new "forum" and a new "model of international cooperation," which could radically change if not completely override ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the U.S.-led group that currently manages crucial Internet infrastructure such as domain names, root servers and IP (Internet Protocol) addresses.

Previously, the E.U. was aligned with the U.S. in supporting the status quo, which essentially meant keeping ICANN as the body in charge of managing the Internet. With its latest move, the European government body has joined most other countries in demanding a global body to take over supervision of the Net. This according to lawmakers in Washington would mean that once the domain system control is out of US hands, some countries can make the Internet "an instrument of censorship and political suppression." senior Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have both supported efforts led by Senator Norm Coleman, a Republican from Minnesota, to protect control of the Internet from being transferred to the U.N. by sending a letter to the Departments of State and Commerce in support of Mr Coleman's position (you can read the letter here).

Well, I certainly agree with Ehsan. I mean, countries such as Tunisia (the host of the summit), China, Syria and Iran which are constantly criticized for their infringements on freedom of speech, the harrassment of independent groups and and Internet censorship, will certainly make the best of any such control transition.

I'll follow up on this story as I'm sure we'll hear more about it in the run-up to the summit.

By the way, Iran's Noble Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, nominated on October 12, 2005 by WSIS CS Human Rights Caucus, will be Civil Society Speaker for WSIS Tunisia Opening Ceremony.