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Chehadé: Biggest Threat To Internet Is Fragmentation; Time To End US Oversight

Internet governance has reared its head to become a hugely important issue in the last 12 months, Fadi Chehadé, CEO Of ICANN, told HuffPost Live at Davos, and he thinks the “biggest threat is to start building walls that create frictions. Frictionless internet, where innovation is permissionless… is critical,” he said. He also believes now is the time to end the US government’s oversight of the internet.”If we cannot find a way to govern the internet in an equal footing, in an open transparent way this year, we might descend into a fragmented version of the internet,” Chehadé said. “The moment we fragment the internet it is possible there will be tariffs between borders, there will be rules… it will not be the internet as we know it.”

“How do we keep it at the same time a source of economic growth, connectivity between people in this world that is deeply hyper-connected now and at the same time make sure we don’t have refrigerators … start sending spam.”And when not just your refrigerator, but everything connected to the internet is an actor on the net, Chehadé said it is quite important to build frameworks.On ICANN’s oversight, and its links with the US government, Chehadé told HuffPost Live that ICANN maintains a relationship with the US government to ensure a proper oversight of its functions such as the IP numbering system and the domain name system. But now the time has come for the US to pass its stewardship to the rest of the world because it is no longer sustainable.The reason the time has come now Chehadé said was that “the internet now occupies a very significant portion of the world’s economic growth agenda.” Chehadé used a Boston Consulting Group study that ICANN promoted last Monday which found that those with fewer limitations on online activity can have larger digital economies. The difference can amount to 2.5 percent of GDP.A fragmented internet is also a big threat to the internet Chehadé believes, saying that while it talks of often breaking away from the current internet, it is in the country’s interests to stay within the current governance.He also said that through his dealings with China, they are very pragmatic and do not want to slow the growth of the internet. Plus Chehadé said a fragmented internet will hurt small countries who need the internet to enlarge their markets, developing countries who need to access knowledge from around the world and exporting countries who need the internet for the supply of services and goods. And China exports a lot of online services, and Chehadé believes the Chinese are pragmatic and want to stay part of an interconnected world.The full interview is available to view at www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/24/fadi-chehade-davos_n_4635949.html.