IGF in Rio: ICANN’s role one of issues discussed

IGF Brazil logoThe US government’s, through the Department of Commerce and ICANN, role has been widely discussed at the current Internet Governance Forum meeting on Monday, currently being held in Rio de Janeiro. The Associated Press has reported that although few participants “attacked the United States directly, most were well aware of the role Americans play over domain name policies, including whether and how to assign suffixes in languages besides English.” AP further reported comments from Brazil’s Culture Minister Gilberto Gil, who apparently is also a major pop star in Brazil, “The Internet is transnational. It can’t be under the authority of one country or even some countries. The Internet should be the territory of everyone.” The current IGF meeting follows a previous meeting in Athens that covered many of the same issues. At the meeting in Athens, a common claim was the US’s influence in the internet was not discussed widely enough. “We all know that critical Internet resources has become a code word for ICANN issues and the underlying problem of the control of Internet by a nation-state,” said Milton Mueller, a professor at Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y. “Critical Internet resources are truly global governance issue.” Mueller said an ICANN-like structure works but the U.S. and other governments ought to stay out of it. The US’s role through ICANN is just one of the issues, and quite possible the major issue, being discussed in Rio. Internet access and the digital divide are other issues of importance along with child pornography and cybercrime.