31 October 2006

Dialogue needed on internet's future by Nitin Desai, Chair, IGF organising group BBC

The IGF is not designed to take decisions. It is not an attempt to take over the management of the internet. It is a forum for dialogue and discussion for stimulating voluntary coalitions of the willing rather than laying down the law.

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World discusses internet future BBC

The future of the net is the ambitious topic under discussion at the first global Internet Governance Forum, being held in Athens over the next five days. It has been set up by the UN to give governments, companies, organisations and individuals space for debate.

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'Gambits' are a risk to Internet domain system International Herald Tribune

Vinton Cerf said that he feared the network's addressing system would break down if "political gambits" by international groups or national agencies interfere with plans to expand the languages used in domain names. The article goes on to say "At the heart of the latest split is the issue of allowing non-Western characters to be used in Internet addresses."

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30 October 2006

Dr. Peng Hwa Ang Speaks on "Who's Really Out To Control the Internet?" Hamilton College

Dr. Peng Hwa Ang (Nanyang Technological University) gave a lecture titled "Who's Really Out To Control the Internet? UN and U.S.A. Internet Governance" at Hamilton on Oct. 26. Dr. Ang is the dean of the School of Communication and Information at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, as well as one of 40 persons appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to a UN Working Group on Internet Governance in 2004. He spoke about the current international efforts to create a multilateral, transparent, and democratic method for Internet governance, as well as why it is in the United States' best interest to relinquish some control over the Internet.

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Google defiant over censorship in China The Observer

Google is to enter the political arena in earnest this week when it debates freedom of speech, intellectual property rights and how to connect Africa to the internet at a special UN conference.

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Everyone talks, but no-one listens BBC

The net's great and the good are meeting in Athens, but the BBC's Bill Thompson doubts that they will achieve much.

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Whose information society? Developing country and civil society voices in the World Summit on the Information Society by David Souter (pdf) Association for Progressive Communications

This paper summarises a study of developing country and civil society participation and influence in WSIS that was commissioned by the Association for Progressive Communications. As well as analysing participation, the study looked at the impact of WSIS on international ICT decision-making in general and makes recommendations to all main actors about how future decision-making might become more inclusive of developing countries, nongovernmental actors and their concerns.

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28 October 2006

U.N. summit revives concerns about Net control ZDNet

A long-simmering dispute over whether the U.S. government has too much control over the Internet's underpinnings will heat up again next week at a United Nations summit in Greece.

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"Call to Bloggers" to stand up for freedom ahead of world meeting on future of Internet Amnesty news release

Amnesty International today issued a 'Call to Bloggers', asking them to get online and stand up for freedom of expression on the internet. The organisation says this is a critical time when fundamental rights - particularly freedom of expression and privacy - are under threat from governments that want to control what their citizens say, and what information they can access.

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The Road to Rio and Beyond: Results-based Management of the UN Internet Governance Forum Internet Governance Project

This paper (pdf) argues that the road to the 2007 meeting of the Internet Governance Forum in Rio de Janeiro and beyond must be paved with effective management practices. Results-based management principles employed elsewhere in reform of United Nations agency practices provide that base.

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27 October 2006

Should ICANN Become Autonomous? Wired/AP

An international dispute over U.S. control of the internet appears unlikely to be resolved even as state envoys, regulators and technology experts convene next week in Athens to discuss the network's future. The Greek Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said "Such negotiations are difficult ... this will take time. There are many countries which all have their own interests and opinions. We are starting a dialogue which I think will take many years." Around 1,200 people are expected to attend.

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16 October 2006

Internet panel: "Balkanization" looms ars technica

At a meeting last week in London that discussed the challenges facing the internet, the most provocative issue raised was the "Balkanization" of the internet. This article provides a link to a webcast and covers the main point raised by the meeting - the demographics of internet users are changing dramatically and in a few years Asian users should outnumber European and North American users, with an issue being IDNs being required for domain names. Nitin Desai raised the point that the Balkanization could occur if countries such as China felt left out of the internet.

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11 October 2006

Globalising governance - The Guardian - Leader The Guardian

The Guardian has a leader asking who should run the internet, and notes that there needs to be strong rule over the issuing of domain names. It says the role needs to be changed and the recent loosening of the reins by the Department of Commerce was a step in the right direction. The leader concludes "It is easy to say that the body should report to the whole net community but making that a reality is likely to be a formidable task. It would be nice, but idealistic, to think the UN could ensure this happens, as some countries are urging. Icann now has an opportunity. If it can devise a non-governmental institution for international governance it might create a model that could be applied elsewhere, to tackle other problems posed by globalisation."

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Warning over 'broken up' internet BBC

In a conference organised by Nominet, Nitin Desai “said there were tensions about the future regulation of the net and over specific issues such as international domain names.” He notes there will be marked differences between how the internet is used in the west and developing countries and “the internet was increasingly being shaped by companies and organisations at the "edges" and not by government, public sector bodies and regulators”. Also speaking was Professor Howard Williams (World Bank) who said the debate around future regulation of the web rested on the assumption there would be a single web in the future and that a Balkanisation of the internet was already happening.

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10 October 2006

Internet privacy 'sacrificed' by ICANN by Michael Geist BBC

The BBC among others publishes an article by Professor Michael Geist arguing ICANN “has sacrificed the issue of privacy for a shot at independence.” Geist argues that all the work done on Whois reforms over the last 5 years has come to nothing by requiring ICANN to enforce current Whois policies, despite opposition from privacy groups including European data protection commissioners.

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08 October 2006

Who wants to run the internet? The Times

The American Government is set to cede control of the internet. Who will take its place, asks Bernhard Warner: Last week, after years of struggle, you and I finally got our first glimpse of "internet freedom". Yep, that cabal of crooked men in a Dr Evil hideout (aka, the US Department of Commerce) finally relinquished its iron-tight grip on governing the web. Instead, the US Government will allow the free market to determine the future of a medium that will no doubt generate trillions in trade and topple a few despots along the way.

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06 October 2006

Tension envelops U.S. oversight of ICANN following extension IDG

Internet governance experts remain divided over last week's decision to extend the U.S. government's oversight of ICANN, with some calling it appropriate and others portraying it as unwise. The strong sentiments on either side reflect a chronic, troubling tension that has enveloped ICANN since 1998, when it was formed to progressively absorb Internet management functions until then handled fully by the U.S. government.

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04 October 2006

European Commission welcomes move towards full private-sector management by 2009 (news release) European Union news release

The United States government's decision to give more autonomy to ICANN was welcomed by the European Commission. On 30 September, a highly prescriptive Memorandum of Understanding between the US Department of Commerce and ICANN expired. It has now been replaced by lighter arrangements intended to end definitely by 2009. The European Commission has been working for several years on a system of internet governance entrusted fully to the private sector without government interference in the internet's day-to-day management. The Commission cooperated in 1998 with the US in setting up ICANN and hosted, until 2006, the Secretariat of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) to ICANN. Completing the transition of internet governance to the private sector also had been the explicit request by the EU and its partners at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis in November 2005.

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US government steps back from internet control The Register

Analysis: The US government has taken a step back from control of the internet with a new contract between it and overseeing organisation ICANN that came into effect.

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A domain by any other name The Guardian

The public's dislike of Icann comes partly from the opinion that it exercises too much control over the internet, but that's not the case.

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US loosens grip on running of internet The Guardian

The EU has hailed a decision by the US government to back down and grant full autonomy by 2009 to ICANN. Viviane Reding, EU information society and media commissioner, said "The European commission will follow closely Icann's transition to full independence in the next three years. With our advice, we will contribute to this transition to ensure that it takes place transparently, reflecting the interests of industry and civil society alike."

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03 October 2006

Another View of the New ICANN-DoC Agreement by Milton Mueller CircleID

Milton Mueller writes on the Internet Governance website, linked from this CircleID article (but inaccessible at the time of writing) of the new MoU between ICANN and the DoC, that the new agreement "is a cosmetic response to the comments received by NTIA during its Notice of Inquiry in July 2006" with the object seeming "to be to strengthen the public's perception that ICANN is relatively independent". Milton writes that the relationship is "fundamentally unchanged" and notes that "In one important respect, the JPA has actually increased direct US intervention".

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Internet control 'nears autonomy' BBC

The new three year agreement between ICANN and DoC is reported by many news outlets, with emphasis being given to the more hands off approach by the US government and the US government pledging to cede control of the net to private sector hands at an unspecified future point.

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08 May 2006

Unease over how the net is run by Michael Geist BBC

Internet governance issues usually attract the attention of a relatively small number of net users. However, concerns associated with the current system have begun to grow, writes internet law professor Michael Geist.

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Put Free Expression on the Internet Governance Forum Agenda by Milton Mueller Circle ID

The Internet Governance Project has joined free-expression advocacy organizations Reporters Without Borders and Article 19 to push for including Internet censorship and filtering problems on the agenda of the first meeting of the new Internet Governance Forum, a multistakeholder deliberation body created by the World Summit on the Information Society.

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