What role should government and intra-governmental agencies play in the international development of the Internet? Some 5,000 representatives from more than 60 nations began asking that question along with key others at the United Nations' first World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), meeting in Geneva Wednesday. Jennifer L. Schenker, of the International Herald Tribune, reports on the proposal that the Internet be moved from private-sector based control by groups such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to the United Nations. The proposal comes in response to a feeling within the international community that their voices are not being heard in regard to how the Internet is run.
Paul Twomey, the head of ICANN, felt firsthand the frustration of 'voicelessness' felt by countries outside the U.S. at a preliminary meeting Friday. Twomey, along with representatives of the news media and other civilians were escorted out after participants decided to exclude observers. Reached outside the conference, Twomey told Schenker: 'Here I am outside a UN meeting room where diplomats -- most of whom know little about the technical aspects -- are deciding in a closed forum how 750 million people should reach the Internet. I am not amused.'
But in a situation where 'the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology still has more Internet addresses than all of China,'
one can assume that the world is not amused either. Talal
Abu-Ghazeleh, a Jordanian businessman who is vice chairman of the
UN Information and Communication Technology Task Force, says it's
'time for the rest of the world to have a larger voice in [the
Internet's] governance.' At the close of the summit on Friday, four
topics will have been addressed: Internet governance, the use of
excess bandwitdth to help development, connecting more people to
communications networks and finding the appropriate
-- Kyle Cohen
Comments? Story tips? Write a letter to the editor
Like this? Want more?Subscribe to Utne magazine