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[InetBib] FWD: Change in Internet governance

Dear All,

Today USA cedes control of Internet.  Consequence for the libraries ?
More information on : http://www.theregister.com/2006/07/27/ntia_icann_meeting/
or after this message
Best regards

The Register » Internet and Law » Original URL:
United States cedes control of the internet - but
what now? By Kieren McCarthy Published Thursday
27th July 2006 08:54 GMT

In a meeting that will go down in internet
history, the United States government last night
conceded that it can no longer expect to maintain
its position as the ultimate authority over  the
internet. Having been the internet's instigator
and, since 1998, its voluntary taskmaster, the US
government finally agreed to transition its
control over not-for-profit internet overseeing
organisation ICANN, making the organisation a
more international body. However, assistant
commerce secretary John Kneuer, the US official
in charge of such  matters, also made clear that
the US was still determined to keep control of
the net's root  zone file - at least in the
medium-term. "The historic role that we announced
that we were going to preserve is fairly clearly
articulated: the technical verification and
authorisation of changes to the authoritative
root,"  Kneuer explained following an afternoon
of explicit statements from US-friendly
organisations and individuals that it was no
longer viable for one government to retain such
power over the future of a global resource.
Despite the sentiments, however, it was apparent
from the carefully selected panel and  audience
members that the internet - despite its global
reach - remains an English-speaking  possession.
Not one of the 11 panel members, nor any of the
22 people that spoke during  the meeting, had
anything but English as their first language.
While talk centered on the future of the internet
and its tremendous global influence, the  people
that sat there discussing it represented only a
tiny minority of those that now use the  internet
every day. Reflections on the difficulty of
expanding the current internet  governance
mechanisms to encompass the global audience
inadvertently highlighted the  very parochialism
of those that currently form the ICANN in-crowd.
When historians come to review events in
Washington on 26 July 2006, they will no doubt
be reminded of discussions in previous centuries
over why individual citizens should be  given a
vote. Or, perhaps, why landowners or the educated
classes shouldn't be given more  votes than the

There was talk of voting rights, or what the
point was of including more people in ICANN
processes, and even how people could be educated
sufficiently before they were allowed to
interact with the existing processes. Ironically,
it was ICANN CEO Paul Twomey who most accurately
put his finger on what  had to be done. One of
the most valuable realisations that ICANN has
ever come to, he  noted, was that when it
revamped itself last time, it recognised it
hadn't got it right. Even  more importantly,
Twomey noted, was the fact the organisation
recognised that "it would  never get it right.
And so ICANN put a review mechanism into its
bylaws". The reason Twomey's observations are
particularly noteworthy is that it is Paul Twomey
himself who has consistently - and deliberately -
failed to open ICANN up, keeping  meetings
secret, and refusing to release information about
discussions either before a  meeting and, in some
cases, after the meeting. A stark warning came
from the Canadian government - the only
government except for the  US government invited
to speak. Recent arrival, but highly
knowledgeable representative,  Bill Graham was
extraordinarily clear. "It is time for ICANN to
recognise that it is in many  ways a
quasi-judicial body and it must begin to behave
that way," he said. "The ICANN board needs to
provide adequate minutes of all its meetings.
There needs to  be a notice of what issues will
be considered, and the timeframe when a decision
is made.  A written document needs to be posted
setting out the background and context of the
issues. There needs to be an acknowledgment and a
summary of the positions put forward  by various
interested parties; there needs to be an analysis
of the issues; there needs to be  an explanation
of the decisions and the reasons for it; and
ultimately there needs to be a  mechanism for the
board to be held accountable by its community."
Everyone recognised the meeting as an historic
turning point in the future of the internet,
causing a strange amount of one-upmanship among
those taking part, most of it covering  how long
they had been involved with ICANN. Paul Twomey
referred to the Berlin  meeting (1999); an
irregular ICANN contributor (on the panel thanks
to US governmental  influence) spoke of "being
there before ICANN was even created". The swagger
got so  bad that several well-informed
contributors were forced to apologise because
they had only  been to three ICANN meetings.
Ultimately, what came out of a gathering of the
(English-speaking) great and the good  regarding
the internet was two things: That the US
government recognises it has to transition its
role if it wants to keep the  internet in one
piece (and it then has to sell that decision to a
mindlessly patriotic  electorate) 1. That ICANN
has to open up and allow more people to decide
its course if it is going  to be allowed to
become the internet's main overseeing
organisation 2. If you ignore the fact that the
conversation only happened within a tiny subset
of the people  that actually use the internet,
everyone can feel quite content in walking away
feeling that at  least people now understand
their point of view. As a rare non-US
contributor, Emily Taylor, Nominet's lawyer, UK
citizen, and a member of the IGF Advisory Group
told us she felt that "the fact that the meeting
took place was as  valuable as anything that was
discussed". That much is certainly true. The US
has recognised that it can no longer hope to
control the  internet. The next step is for
everyone invited into the party this time to
recognise that they  too play only a small role
in the global revolution that is this jumble of
interconnected  computer networks. ® Related
stories Future of the net to be decided tomorrow
(25 July 2006)
US government urged again to end net role (21
July 2006)
US government told to take its hands off internet
(15 July 2006)
The internet needs YOU! (2 July 2006)
Governments to decide future of net (28 June
© Copyright 2006

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