[LINK] Debate flares on net rules
brd at iimetro.com.au
Tue Jun 23 15:21:32 EST 2009
Debate flares on net rules
June 23, 2009
Sydney will this week host a heated international debate on the
regulation of the internet, as its peak governance body resists pressure
from Europe to become more independent of the US.
The private, non-profit body ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned
Names and Numbers), which runs the internet's network address system
under contract from the US government, will hold its triennial
international meeting in Sydney this week.
About 1300 delegates representing up to 50 countries are expected to
debate a request by the European Union last week to privatise ICANN and
bring it under international supervision.
They will also discuss plans and proposals to make some of the biggest
changes to the internet ever attempted.
These include the introduction non-Roman characters for domain names for
the first time, and allowing organisations to register and control
top-level domain names such as .food and .coke.
Last week the EU commission said ICANN should operate under "clear
guidelines defined through an international dialogue".
"The network should be managed by private bodies on principles agreed
upon by public authorities but without government interference in
day-to-day operations," the EU executive said.
This week ICANN will consider proposals to strengthen its board's
accountability to the international community in an attempt appease its
ICANN chief executive and president Paul Twomey, an Australian, said the
body planned to establish a quasi-legal tribunal of international judges
that would have the power to hear appeals on board decisions.
"We've presently got an independent review panel mechanism that makes
reviews of board decisions.
"We want to boost that to be an independent review tribunal of standing
international judges and apply basic principles like those that would be
applicable in Australian administrative law," he said.
"They're powers that the US government doesn't have," Dr Twomey said.
For the past 11 years ICANN has also held a non-financial procurement
contract issued by the US Department of Commerce.
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) contract was created by
the Clinton administration to end the US National Science Foundation's
20-year role in funding essentially the same functions.
Critics argue the system should be overhauled when ICANN's joint project
agreement with the department expires in September.
"In the view of the European Commission, future internet governance
arrangements should reflect the key role that the global network has
come to play for all countries," it said.
The US government has the power to tear up the IANA contract with ICANN
if it chooses but ICANN maintains that the US government does not
interfere in its daily operations.
ICANN argues that criticisms of it are based on misconceptions that the
department has oversight in regulating internet names.
Not helping to ease such perceptions is the fact that early this month
both Democrat and Republican politicians told a US House of
Representatives hearing on ICANN they favoured continued US supervision.
In a report to the US Department of Commerce, ICANN said its model for
regulating internet names had been a success and it was "time to
acknowledge and enshrine what works".
In the same report it also warned that the joint agreement was eroding
confidence in the ICANN model and it should not be continued after it
brd at iimetro.com.au
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