Web group warns of UN takeover

The head of the US-monitored organisation in charge of assigning global Internet addresses such as .com and .net has cautioned against proposals to put the group under UN or other international control.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), at the heart of global debate over who should run the Internet, is the closest thing the vast system of intertwined computer networks has to any central authority.
Countries such as Iran and Brazil have argued ICANN, which was founded in 1998 under the aegis of the US department of commerce and still reports partly to the US government, should cede its authority to a global body such as the UN. “If you think of that rate, or pace, in technology, it’s just a lot more rapid than most traditional forms of policy development would be suited to,” Rod Beckstrom, the organisation’s chief executive, said. Multilateral state control could make ICANN less nimble, he said, and therefore less likely to quickly develop technologies like Arabic-language domain names that feed rapidly expanding Internet demand. “It’s hard to imagine any replacement for the current system, and I feel I can say that somewhat objectively because I’ve worked for government as well,” he said, adding such a decision would be up to ICANN’s board of directors. Still, the US government in September 2009 agreed to changes that meant ICANN would no longer report solely to the US, part of a push to give global constituents more say.

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