November 16, 2005 5:40 AM PST

U.S. reaches Net detente with U.N.

TUNIS, Tunisia--The Bush administration and its critics at a United Nations summit here have inked a broad agreement on global Internet management that will preclude any dramatic showdown this week.

By signing the statement (PDF), the Bush administration formally endorsed the creation of an "Internet Governance Forum" that will meet for the first time in 2006 under the auspices of the United Nations. The forum is meant to be a central point for global discussions of everything from computer security and online crime to spam and other "misuses of the Internet."

What the agreement does not do is require the United States to relinquish its unique influence over the Internet's operations. The statement takes "no action regarding existing institutions," David Gross, the ambassador leading the U.S. delegation, said Wednesday. "It created no new international organizations."

The last-minute deal, reached just hours before the World Summit on the Information Society, or WSIS, began Wednesday, effectively postpones a long-simmering dispute over the future of Internet management. China, Cuba, South Africa and other nations have argued that the U.S. and other wealthier nations must share power--complaints that now will be taken to the new U.N. forum.

"It is a matter of justice and legitimacy that all people must have a say in the way the Internet is governed," Luisa Diogo, the prime minister of Mozambique, told the thousands of delegates who have gathered in Tunisia's capital city.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe offered a more ominous warning. The U.S. and allies such as the United Kingdom unreasonably "insist on being world policemen on the management of the Internet," and that must change, Mugabe said.

At issue in this dispute is the unique influence the U.S. government wields over the master list of top-level domain names--such as .com, .org, and country codes including .uk and .jp--as a result of the network's historical origins. In addition, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, the nonprofit organization created by the Clinton administration to oversee day-to-day management of the Internet, is located in Marina del Rey, Calif.

In June, the Bush administration announced that it had no plans to relinquish its role as at least a symbolic guarantor of the stability of the Internet. A statement published at the time backed the current ICANN structure and said "no action" will be taken that could destabilize the Internet.

Over the last few months, the administration's envoys have found themselves increasingly isolated in preliminary meetings leading up to the Tunisia summit.

The European Union, for instance, implicitly backed the creation of a stronger U.N. body that could even be granted regulatory powers. But as the official start of the summit on Wednesday neared, China and other critics chose to agree to the set of principles and instead take their complaints to the newly created U.N. forum during its first meeting next year, which is expected to take place in Greece.

Vague principles for forum
Because the principles adopted this week are so broad, nearly everyone involved in the discussions can boast a political victory.

The United States stressed that the U.N. forum will have no regulatory power. "It will have no oversight function, (remain) nonoperational and engage only in dialogue," Ambassador Gross said. We have "no concerns that it would morph into something unsavory."

Gross also pointed to language in the agreement saying the forum should be "subject to periodic review"--meaning, he said, it will not become a permanent bureaucracy.

Also included in the broad principles: The forum shall "identify emerging issues, bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public," "facilitate discourse between bodies dealing with different cross-cutting international public policies regarding the Internet" and discuss "issues relating to critical Internet resources."

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on the other hand, said the agreement highlights "the need for more

CONTINUED: Placating conservatives?…
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24 comments

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Yeah right.
Lets give full control of the Internet to the U.N.

Who thinks this crud up? Why would we EVER turn over control of the most valuable resource in the world over to an organization with no balls that can't even manage the smallest of projects without getting lost in thier own BS.
Posted by (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Because
If China, Iran, Syria and Cuba endorsed the plan, it must be good!
Posted by ebrandel (102 comments )
Link Flag
You tend to forget...
The US is also member of the UN. Don't see them doing much good in there either... <cough>WMD</cough>
Posted by Steven N (487 comments )
Link Flag
Throw Them a Bone
Zimbabwe is concerned that the US can't run the Internet properly? LOL!

The Bush guys proabably made a mistake is telling them that we will continue to talk about this trash -- in two years.

This is ludicrous.

No, we are not going to let Iran censor the net.
No, we are not going to let India configure the root servers.
No, we are not going to let Kofie's kid put a tax on email.
No.

Whatever you were going to ask next, it's no.
Posted by (139 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please...
If these countries can't control thier own people in a civilized way, how are they going to control the most powerful tool in the world? Thanks but no thanks 3rd world, we're in charge.
Posted by smcgui5 (21 comments )
Link Flag
Nigeria is concerned
Nigeria is concerned that they will loose control over all the spam they send

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://work-out.blogspot.com/" target="_newWindow">http://work-out.blogspot.com/</a>
Posted by SqlserverCode (165 comments )
Reply Link Flag
PLACATE?
It's amusing that the story says they are backing down to "...placate conservative groups and businesses." Please. I am not a member of either group. I just don't want the U.N. anywhere near the internet. It's too valuable a resource to the world to allow it to fall in the hands of the U.N. Trying to spin it as some kind of conservative or globalization conspiracy will not work for people who want to continue to enjoy the freedom of the internet (good and bad) that is provided by management/control by the West.
Posted by Jeremiah256 (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We should turn it over to....
a bunch of machete wielding baby killers. Bruce Willis in the movie "Tears of the Sun" should have upon learning Mugabe was among the natives being rescued placed three 9mm bullets in his head.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe spoke for the more radical opposition to U.S. control, saying Washington and its allies cannot continue to "insist on being world policemen on the management of the Internet."

"Why should our diverse world be beholden to an American company?," he told more than 10,000 government, business and other delegates as the three-day U.N. World Summit on the Information Society opened Wednesday.
Posted by Muddleme (99 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Freedom is vital
If you believe in freedom of thought and expression let your senators and representatives know that the american public wants control of the internet to stay in the US. Knowledge is power and that is a threat to any repressive regime that seeks to control its population and keep it in the dark. America has it's faults but compared to many other countries in this world it is a paradise. The free flow of information between peoples will enable us to learn about and understand each other and in the end maybe eliminate the need for armies, wars and totalitarian governments--that is what they really fear.
Posted by telynor (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who creates and arms those regimes
Seeing the surface is one thing getting down to the root is an other. Those dictators are created by western and multinational firms who dictate even the western presidents. Folks who are shareholders in such firms should know what their money is used for and how. In most cases they do not know. They will not tell you that they will destroy certain democracy's in order to rob some country's resources. Just to make you one cent on your invested buck. Do they? When they want to "rob some OIL" it is called and wrapped into "spreading Democracy", and most shareholder suckers believe it! From my point of view it is like financing robbery and government sponsored International terrorism! Past example of undermining democracy is Chile. Who is next? Future one? He he he ... My prediction is that USA will try to topple a democratically elected president of Venezuela to prevent him from sharing the goods and profit from oil with his fellow citizens. USA will tell you some other foxy garbage. Let's wait and see! If people fight back to stop a robber, US will call them terrorists. The rest of the World calls them freedom fighters! Makes sense?
Posted by cyberblatt (35 comments )
Link Flag
dot whatever...
polka dot puppet master..

I vote for antartica!! let the penguins do thier thing...
Posted by (47 comments )
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No Way!!!
The US has been very generous involving the world in internet technology. Control must stay with the US because it is one of a very few countries which have the checks and balances to keep governing of the internet honest.
There are too many greedy CORRUPT leaders in the UN.
Posted by techisgood (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Do You Notice Who It Always Is????
Do you notice how the totalitarians in the world are always trying to hijack freedom? Now they are weighing in on hijacking the Internet. Cuba and Red China for the communist left, and Mugabe and others for the fascist right. They can all go dance together with AKs and machetes. A pox on both their houses.

Never give this control up!
Posted by Terry Gay (127 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Power Hungry USA!!!
Who cares if US controls *.com .ny .canada .whatever!? The truth is no one does; we don't! The problem is if they want to control us!! Let us have our freedom back and have our own subdomains and fortnately we actually don't need your permission! Why do you control .co.it, .co.za, .co.fr, .co.jp...? What are you so afraid of? Just let them go! It's not any better than those lunatics who just buy multiple URLs to blackmail their owners! Bottom Line: you think you can control us and that stinks! Give us our power! What's wrong with us controlling ourselves?
Posted by (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sad
How sad that you are so blinded by your dislike of the US that you fail to realize that the very reason to keep oversight with the US is so that the net remains open. Do you really believe that any totalitarian regime would not restrict access to all ideas--good and bad? Do I want any government censoring what I see or read or think, I don't think so.
Posted by telynor (3 comments )
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