March 25, 2004 6:57 AM PST

U.N. finds Net governance tempting

Related Stories

Who should govern the Net?

March 18, 2004

Registrar ups ante in VeriSign battle

March 2, 2004

If ICANN can't, who can?

March 2, 2004
NEW YORK--A task force that intends to increase the United Nations' involvement with running the Internet is convening here Thursday, its first meeting since VeriSign filed a lawsuit against the group that now oversees domain names and addresses.

The meeting comes as the international body is growing more interested in taking over some of the functions of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and ICANN Chairman Vint Cerf will offer opening remarks.

The United Nations' goal has met with firm opposition from large sectors of the U.S. business community.

"The U.N. tends to be a very slow moving vehicle," Elana Broitman, Register.com's policy director, said in a recent interview. "It's very bureaucratic. Frankly it doesn't give the private sector a seat at the table very often. And so from that perspective, it's highly unlikely we'll see the same kind of innovation and efficiency that we see in ICANN."

The agenda for Thursday's U.N. meeting includes a discussion titled "Accumulated Concerns, Perspectives, and Exploring How We Can Cooperate." Domain names, technical standards, network security, intellectual property, privacy, e-commerce, free speech, taxation, and "cultural and linguistic diversity" also are listed as topics for discussion.

VeriSign's lawsuit, filed last month, lists 43 pages of grievances, alleging that ICANN repeatedly thwarted VeriSign in its attempts to cash in on its master database for .com and .net. VeriSign also accuses ICANN of antitrust violations, a charge that could imperil its ability to continue to operate in its current form.

The United Nations has already made moves to position one of its agencies, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as a candidate for an ICANN takeover. A recent presentation in Geneva by Tim Kelly, the head of the ITU's strategy and policy unit, made a pitch for the organization to supplant ICANN, at least in part. It touted the strengths of the ITU as neutrality, "international legitimacy, credibility and accountability," and "observance of due process."

In an recent interview, Cerf said he did not see any reason for the United Nations to get more involved "as long as we stay well within the ambit of our responsibilities."

"If VeriSign gets what they want, ICANN becomes irrelevant and you don't have anyone watching the registry operator," Christine Jones, general counsel for domain name registrar Go Daddy, said recently. "The more important player is the U.N. and the ITU, which is trying to gain control."

5 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Seems inocuous enough
Mr. McCullagh is a very good reporter. He has a real insight into "the big picture" - what is shaping the Internet.

This story is important because is shows how important and politcally charged information is becoming.

Should we worry about this issue? maybe call our Senators. (I am from South Carolina that is frigtening given Fritz Holling's profound idiocy when it comes to "computers"). What would it mean for the UN to control parts of the internet?

thanks Declan...
Posted by tsbardella (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What a joke!
Brilliant! Let the UN take over the domain name registry. What a terrific idea! Why didn't somebody think of this sooner?

Who do we think should chair the newly-formed "Committee on Internet Affairs"??? (Paid for, of course, with US funds)

Let's run through the list, shall we?

1. The US - No, that's who we're trying to take this away from, remember?

2. France - Well, I think it would be a safe bet to say that "francesucks.net" would be removed quite swiftly.

3. China - Hmmm. That'd be interesting. I really do like reading CNN.com in the morning, oh well, I guess we'll all have to live with Xinhua.com, the Chinese government-run news firm.

4. Iran - Hey? Why shouldn't they be allowed to chair the Internet Commission? They were allowed to chair the commissions on Weapons of Mass Destruction! Is Cnet.com too un-Islamic for the clerics? If it is, it'd need to be taken down.

5. The EU - I know that they're not an UN member (but they should be, face it people, the EU is a country) but let's be hypothetical. I know that the IRS has failed in trying to draw blood from a stone, but maybe the European Commission would find a way to fine the internet for being a monopoly! Now THAT would be something.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Al Gore
Al Gore should chair the Committee.
He invented the thing didn't he?.....lol
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Re: What a joke
Ha Ha! I agree with you. Once the UN takes over, we will get nothing but Commie and Muslim run news. Freedom of the press gone!

Message boards that diss the UN, france, EU, china and other idiot countries? GONE! Freedom of speech: GONE!

Talk about total opression. And everyone says the PATRIOT ACT is bad!! Just wait till the UN takes over the Internet
Posted by (3 comments )
Link Flag
What a joke!
Brilliant! Let the UN take over the domain name registry. What a terrific idea! Why didn't somebody think of this sooner?

Who do we think should chair the newly-formed "Committee on Internet Affairs"??? (Paid for, of course, with US funds)

Let's run through the list, shall we?

1. The US - No, that's who we're trying to take this away from, remember?

2. France - Well, I think it would be a safe bet to say that "francesucks.net" would be removed quite swiftly.

3. China - Hmmm. That'd be interesting. I really do like reading CNN.com in the morning, oh well, I guess we'll all have to live with Xinhua.com, the Chinese government-run news firm.

4. Iran - Hey? Why shouldn't they be allowed to chair the Internet Commission? They were allowed to chair the commissions on Weapons of Mass Destruction! Is Cnet.com too un-Islamic for the clerics? If it is, it'd need to be taken down.

5. The EU - I know that they're not an UN member (but they should be, face it people, the EU is a country) but let's be hypothetical. I know that the IRS has failed in trying to draw blood from a stone, but maybe the European Commission would find a way to fine the internet for being a monopoly! Now THAT would be something.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.