The European Union, along with a number of other countries, is in the midst of questioning why the United States has sole control over the Internet when it is a tool used around the world.
At the moment, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is based out of California and works on contract under the U.S. Department of Commerce, oversees the Internet. The U.S. government retains the final say over all goings-on, including such things as domain names. Others countries have begun to question why an international body does not oversee the Internet, like the UN oversees the phone system, given that it is such a global tool. While this move started with mainly developing nations, it received quite a lift when the European Union backed up the argument.
The U.S. is concerned, however, that creating a global organization, or potentially handing it over to the United Nations, could change the face of the Internet.
“We look at the Internet’s success and want to make sure we keep the recipe for it,” David Gross, lead U.S. negotiator on the matter, said. “If you modify it, the risk is that you come out with something far worse.”
However, many others claim that the daily management of the Internet should be without any sort of government intervention at all. Governmental control over the Internet would change the entire idea behind the global medium, creating a much less powerful medium than we currently have access to.
The U.S. government has flipped-flopped on whether it will retain control or allow ICANN to function on its own. Just as recently as August, it became apparent that the United States still controls the Internet after a move to create a special domain name for adult content was vetoed after an outcry from those against it.
As it stands right now, the Internet requires minimum administration. In short, ICANN is just a group that ensures that more than one domain name is not given to multiple parties.
“No single government should have a pre-eminent role in relation to international Internet government,” The United Nations Working Group on Internet Governance said in a report.
The matter will get further review in mid-November during a three-day Summit held in Tunisia, and we’ll be paying close attention. The Internet is a powerful medium for companies big and small, and anyone interested in the future of business should stay tuned to what develops here.