Tag Archives: United Nations

Vint Cerf Calls For ITU To Be Kept Away From Internet Governance, Including ICANN

Vint Cerf is critical of plans by various countries over a battle for the internet that is opening at the International Telecommunications Union in this opinion piece in the New York Times.Cerf writes that the ITU “is conducting a review of the international agreements governing telecommunications and aims to expand its regulatory authority to the Internet at a summit scheduled for December in Dubai.””Such a move holds potentially profound — and I believe potentially hazardous — implications for the future of the Internet and all of its users.”Cerf says the secret of the internet’s success is that “governments — for the most part — allowed the Internet to grow organically, with civil society, academia, private sector and voluntary standards bodies collaborating on development, operation and governance.””In contrast, the ITU creates significant barriers to civil society participation.”Cerf goes on to say that “while many governments are committed to maintaining flexible regimes for fast-moving internet technologies, some others have been quite explicit about their desire to put a single U.N. or other intergovernmental body in control of the Net.”Some of the proposals for ITU governance have surfaced from within the organisation, including that “several authoritarian regimes reportedly would ban anonymity from the Web, which would make it easier to find and arrest dissidents. Others have suggested moving the privately run system that manages domain names and Internet addresses to the United Nations.””Such proposals raise the prospect of policies that enable government controls but greatly diminish the ‘permissionless innovation’ that underlies extraordinary Internet-based economic growth to say nothing of trampling human rights.”Cerf encourages people “to take action now: Insist that the debate about internet governance be transparent and open to all stakeholders.”Vint Cerf’s article, Keep the Internet Open, can be read in full on The New York Times website by going to www.nytimes.com/2012/05/25/opinion/keep-the-internet-open.html.There have also been a couple of articles in Forbes on the issue. One, is by Scott Cleland, President of Precursor LLC and Chairman of NetCompetition, a pro-competition e-forum supported by broadband interests and who during the George H.W. Bush Administration, Cleland served as Deputy United States Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy.Cleland writes that “any attempt to remake the Internet in the ITU’s image – “the ITUnet” – is pure folly. The essence of the Internet is that it is voluntary; no entity mandated it or controls it. People, companies, entities and nations all voluntarily have chosen to use the Internet because it is the best at what it does.””The folly here is that the ITU does not understand the voluntary nature of the Internet or how the Internet really operates and evolves – because the bottom-up collaborative Internet is the antithesis of top-down governmental command and control.”On the domain name system, Cleland says it “rapidly became universal precisely because people voluntarily recognized its essential value and adopted it. No country owns, controls, or approves Internet’s addresses; it’s a collaborative, consensus-based, multi-stakeholder process. The World Wide Web became the third voluntary leg of Internet universality, because it offered a universal application to enable people to get to and display most any kind of Internet content available. With the Internet, the best ideas and innovations win on merit not coercion.””Those imagining the ITU can assert authority over the Internet simply don’t understand how the Internet works. They desperately want to believe the Internet operates like last century’s telephone networks because that’s what they know and that’s what they want it to be, so that they can tax and regulate it to redistribute revenues.”Cleland’s article, The ‘ITUnet’ Folly: Why The UN Will Never Control The Internet, is available to be read in full at www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/05/24/the-itunet-folly-why-the-un-will-never-control-the-internet.However taking a contrary view of the ITU’s intention, also in Forbes, is Adam Thierer, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University where he works with the Technology Policy Program.Thierer writes that “in the short term, however, this threat is somewhat overstated. There’s no way the U.N. could “take over the Net.” It’s a technical impossibility. The Internet’s infrastructure and governance structure are both too decentralized for any one global entity to take control.”To read Thierer’s Forbes article, Does the Internet Need a Global Regulator?, in full, go to:

Handing Control Of DNS To ITU Would Be A Disaster: Schmidt

Eric Schmidt headshotInternet freedom and innovation are at risk of being stifled by a new United Nations treaty that aims to bring in more regulation, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt warned in a question-and-answer session at Mobile World Congress 2012 reported ZDNet.

According to the ZDNet report, Schmidt said handing over control of things such as naming and DNS to the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) would divide the internet, allowing it to be further broken into pieces regulated in different ways.

“That would be a disaster… To some, the openness and interoperability is one of the greatest achievements of mankind in our lifetime. Do not give that up easily. You will regret it. You will hate it, because all of a sudden all that freedom, all that flexibility, you’ll find it shipped away for one good reason after another,” Schmidt said.

“I cannot be more emphatic. Be very, very careful about moves which seem logical, but have the effect of balkanising the internet,” he added, urging everyone to strongly resist the moves.

To read the ZDNet report in full, see:

US Republican Moves to Keep UN Away From Internet Governance

The Republicans in the US are working hard to keep the UN’s mitts off internet governance, with Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., reintroducing “a nonbinding resolution calling on President Obama to oppose any efforts by the United Nations to take over governance of the Internet,” reports Tech Daily Dose.”It has become increasingly clear that international governmental organizations, such as the United Nations, have aspirations to become the epicenter of Internet governance. And I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this never happens,” Bono Mack, the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade said in a statement.”Americans have always been skeptical about big government power grabs — and they have a right to be — especially when it impacts their daily lives. Any attempt by the United Nations to take over something that is so central to our economy is deeply troubling and a threat to American consumers. It is bad enough that we have to fight to keep the Federal Communications Commission’s hands off the Internet; just imagine having to convince governments like Iran and China.”The Internet has grown and thrived precisely because it has not been subjected to the suffocating effect of the heavy hand of government. Market-based policies, the free flow of information, and private sector leadership have allowed the Internet to flourish and become the world’s greatest communication platform. I urge the President and his Administration to oppose any effort to transfer control of the Internet to the United Nations or any other international governmental entity.”Bono Mack introduced a similar resolution in the previous congress, reported Tech Daily Dose. In her resolution, Bono Mack notes her concerns about some nations using “the internet as a tool of surveillance to curtail legitimate political discussion and dissent.” However given the recent release of US government cables and other correspondence through WikiLeaks and the ways in which the US has sought to find ways to put WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before the courts in her country, she could easily have been referring to the US as one country that seeks to “use the internet as a tool of surveillance to curtail legitimate political discussion and dissent.”To see the text of House Resolution 57, see bono.house.gov/UploadedFiles/H._Res._57.pdf

ICANN, Cultural Imperialism, and Democratization of Internet Governance by Brian Gailey, Bryant University

Dissertation Abstract: Internet Governance has largely been managed by the United States government since its burgeoning in the 1990’s. The government has since entrusted and charged internet technical tasks and functions to ICANN. The organization along with the United States government has been the subject of heavy criticism for its inadequate international representation. Many interpret US hegemony over the internet as culturally imperialistic.The following paper explores the some of the advantages and disadvantages to multilateral Internet governance. Firstly, it will evaluate ICANN’s ability to both democratize their internal decision-making and internationalize the web by better serving foreign Internet end-users. Next, the paper examines the attitudes of Americans towards the US relinquishing control to international organizations such as the United Nations. The conclusions address both effectiveness of ICANN as well as what may be hindering the US from surrendering control to foreign governments based on nonpolitical reasons.This paper was published by, and is available for download from, the Douglas and Judith Krupp Library Digital Commons initiative, an “institutional repository” to capture, preserve and organize the intellectual output of Bryant University. It is available from:

ICANN CEO Cautions Against UN Takeover

The ICANN CEO and President, Rod Beckstrom, has cautioned against allowing the United Nations to take control of its functions.”If you think of that rate, or pace, in technology, it’s just a lot more rapid than most traditional forms of policy development would be suited to,” Rod Beckstrom, the organisation’s chief executive, told Reuters on Monday.Beckstrom told Reuters that he believes multilateral state control could make ICANN less nimble and therefore less likely to quickly develop technologies like Arabic-language domain names that feed rapidly expanding Internet demand.”It’s hard to imagine any replacement for (the current system), and I feel I can say that somewhat objectively because I’ve worked for government as well,” he said, adding such a decision would be up to ICANN’s board of directors.To read the Reuters report in full, see:

ICANN Signs Two Historic Agreements with UN Agencies

ICANN logoICANN and the Swiss-based Universal Postal Union (UPU) have signed a historic agreement giving the UPU managing authority over .post as a top-level domain. This agreement came about after long negotiations, public review through ICANN’s public comment process, and consideration by ICANN’s Board of Directors. An equal level of effort was required from representatives of the UPU. The result is what may be the first truly secure top-level domain for the provision of services by the UPU member states.

“We are terribly excited about the emergence of .post as the newest generic top-level domain,” ICANN CEO and President Rod Beckstrom stated at the U.N. office in Geneva during a news conference immediately following the signing of the contract. “This contract with the UPU is an important contribution to the Internet. It is part of our desire to provide a single interoperable communications network that can connect all people around the globe. It also strengthens ICANN’s role as a leader in dealing with IGOs.”

UPU Director General Edouard Dayan said the .post project is an important initiative for developing and providing secure and trusted postal services over the Internet.

At the highest conceptual level, the agreement represents linking the top-level of the Internet’s Domain Name System with the real-world physical networks of the postal system, with 600,000 global physical offices and proximity to most humans. To enable its customers to take advantage of the services the UPU envisions for .post, the UPU is already installing the first computers in many villages in their local post offices to provide those services, which can include:

  • Hybrid email; that is, email that turns into physical mail at the post office nearest the recipient. Imagine you want to send a message to an 85-year-old aunt in Switzerland who does not use email. Hybrid mail would transform your email into a letter at your aunt’s national or nearby post office. As an analogy, think of turning emails into telegrams.
  • Cybersecurity services that link authenticated addresses and personal knowledge to strengthen identities on the Internet.
  • New types of financial services.

It is at the UPU’s discretion to set technical standards for national postal systems to join the network.

ICANN and the Swiss-based Universal Postal Union (UPU) have signed 	a historic agreement giving the UPU managing authority over .post as 	a top-level domain.

ICANN and the Swiss-based Universal Postal Union (UPU) sign a historic agreement giving the UPU managing authority over .post as a top-level domain.

In addition to the UPU-ICANN contract, ICANN also entered into another important agreement the day before in Paris with another U.N. entity, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The UNESCO-ICANN cooperation agreement is intended to assist with the process of expanding the adoption of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). IDNs are non-Latin based characters that can now be used on a limited initial basis in the top-level domain portion of an Internet address name, which is that portion of the name that is to the right of the dot, such as .com.

“IDNs might well lead to a huge expansion of Internet users among many who have previously felt estranged from the online world by their inability to use their native language,” said Mr Beckstrom. “This agreement with UNESCO will assist the inclusion of as many language groups as possible and, in the process, it will help ICANN fulfil its mission of global inclusivity by expanding our wide arena of international stakeholders.”

UNESCO and ICANN sign partnership agreement to promote linguistic diversity on Internet

UNESCO and ICANN sign partnership agreement to promote linguistic diversity on Internet

To access an audio recording of today’s UPU-ICANN news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, go to

To see pictures from UPU-ICANN signing, go to

To see pictures from the UNESCO-ICANN signing, go to

This ICANN announcement was sourced from: