November 10, 2005

US against multinational role in Internet: France

By Astrid Wendlandt and Huw Jones

PARIS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The United States will not heed
requests by the European Union and other countries to accept a
multinational approach to running the Internet, a French
government official said on Thursday.

An international summit next week on how the Internet
should be run was likely to end in stalemate, the official

A U.N. report has put forward the multinational approach to
running the Internet which serves a billion users worldwide,
saying this would be more democratic and transparent, a view
the 25 nations of the EU share.

But the United States believes an international body
running the Internet would slow the pace of innovation.

A final round of talks on the report starts on Sunday to
seek a global agreement on Internet governance before the World
Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis on November

"It is possible that we only reach a consensus on the fact
that discussions need to be pursued," Jean-Michel Hubert, the
French government's representative to the WSIS summit, told
reporters in Paris in a pre-summit briefing.

Day-to-day handling of domain names is done by the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a
California-based non-profit organization created by the U.S.
Commerce Department.

"We are looking to build a new model of private-public
cooperation on this existing structure," Hubert said.

"An agreement (in Tunis) on the principles (behind this
model) would already be a breakthrough. But we should not
jeopardize the efficiency of the system," Hubert said about
talks in Tunis.

Hubert said participating countries needed to agree that a
new supervisory structure should not intervene in the
day-to-day running of ICANN.


Governance of the Internet has its roots in the way it was
started 30 years ago as a research project funded by the U.S.
Department of Defense.

But since then the Internet has become a fundamental part
of the world's communications infrastructure, triggering a
desire among many governments to have a say in its running.

German industry said on Thursday the Internet's current
governance should be left alone.

"We believe that a radical overhaul of the present Internet
governance architecture is not only unnecessary, but also
threatens the stability and security of the Internet itself,"
Ludolf Wartenberg, director general of the Federation of German
Industries said in a statement.

Bernhard Rohleder, director general of German technology
federation BITKOM said global accessibility of the Internet
must not be threatened.

"It is essential to preserve private sector and technical
community leadership in the technical management of the
Internet," Rohleder said.

A solution has to be found before the summer of 2006 when
ICANN's contract with the U.S. Dept of Commerce expires.