March 29, 2005 4:00 AM PST
Newsmaker: The U.N. thinks about tomorrow's cyberspaceSee all Newsmakers
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could, but on the other hand you see that ICANN's mandate seems to be a little bit unclear...The U.N. working group on Internet governance provides us with a very good opportunity to look at this issue.
You mentioned a lot of topics--perhaps spam and content could be in there as well. Which ones should the ITU be directly involved in?
Zhao: You can say that the ITU should address those, including spam and security. We have a different concept of security. As far as the (legwork) of security, ITU has worked on this for many, many years...
On privacy, I think that a lot of things are not related to technology only; those are policy matters. Those can be done by the national authorities, regional cooperation and international cooperation. On freedom of speech, I don't see it as a pure technical issue. In my opinion, freedom of speech seems to be a politically sensitive issue. A lot of policy matters are behind it. It's not in ITU's competence, but of course we can make some contributions.
Should ITU run or manage any top-level root servers (the key servers that let people get around on the Internet)?
Zhao: That is a question discussed by a lot of people. Today the management by ICANN (is something that) people consider to be
The ITU is trying to ensure its value. Any public network of communications is naturally of interest to ITU. ITU has a lot of expertise and a lot of experience. (Editor's note: An ITU lawyer said in a follow-up conversation that though the organization may wish to oversee the operation of root servers, it would not run them itself.)
We assign country codes. Some people consider that the top-down approach. I made a proposal for IPv6, that we could look for a new approach based on the experience we have in top-down approaches. Can we find something different? Nobody seems to be confident that ITU's top-down approach is best for IPv6. But nobody is sure that IPv4 bottom-up is best. Can we find something in between? I'm paying attention to that. I have a lot of opinions from ITU members.
Does that mean the ITU would be in the IPv6 allocation business, saying, for instance, that Norway gets 10 trillion addresses and Sweden receives 20 trillion?
Zhao: Yes. I raised that possibility. (I discussed it) not only with government bodies but with industry experts. I did not see them deny that we (could) do that.
But I know this would affect a lot of things. For stability of Internet service, for effective development in the future, we need good cooperation. Right now IPv6 is still not that known to many people in the world. If we have a good understanding of this system, a good management of this, we can avoid problems in the future.
If more and more phone calls move to VoIP, do you see the ITU as becoming irrelevant?
Zhao: I don't have that worry at all. ITU was created in 1865. It has 140 years of history. I don't know if you noted recent news that a very respected academy in the United States said ITU is among the world's most enduring institutions. (Editor's note: This is a reference to a December 2004 report by consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.)
ITU's situation is similar to the U.S. Constitution. ITU is very dynamic. We try to keep abreast of the latest development of the market and to give assistance to human society for future development. Remember, ITU was created in May 1865 to develop a system for telegraphs.
What do you see as the likely outcome, if any, of the September 2005 World Summit on the Information Society?
Zhao: That is a very good question. If you have a very specific wish to get something from this meeting, and you find that is not the case, you may be disappointed. On the other hand, people find that it's a unique opportunity for us to work together.
If you could get everything you wanted out of the meeting, what would that be?
Zhao: If I could get everything from this meeting....I think all international efforts may not be able to satisfy everybody. We
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