U.S Quits as Internet Overlord... Jul 28, 2006 1:33:52 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jul 28, 2006 1:33:52 GMT -6
United States cedes control of the internet - but what now?
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.
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 masses.
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)
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
I don't know if I like the change...