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November 25, 2003Growling Around Internet Governance. From behind-the-scenes exchanges (as well as online reports) it's not hard to predict that internet governance will be one of the most aggravated topics at WSIS. Current arrangements based on ICANN (address: 4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330, Marina del Rey, CA 90292-6601, U.S.A.) are regarded by many as "a byzantine structure, geared to corporate need".
ICANN defenders say proposals to dismantle or replace it are surrogate attempts by governments or international bodies (such as the ITU, host to the WSIS summit) to gain control over a crucial communications asset. They point to ICANN's own detailed self-reform proposals contained in CEO M.Stuart Flynn's 'Heathrow Declaration'.
But for many the current arrangements are beyond reform. In the words of Hans Klein, Chair of Computer of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, "the question is not what is ICANN going to do, but what is the U.S. Government going to do". Get ready to read the lips of U.S. delegates in Geneva.
Something to watch out for at WSIS - a compromise between the ICANN and Klein positions - is the idea of a public-private partnership, "beyond the shadow of the U.S. Government", based on a multilateral, internationally representative framework and on the consent of the governed.