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December 01, 2003

Internet governance continues to excite us here at Daily Summit (no, really!).

In an Op-Ed for the Toronto Star today, Michael Geist pushes the debate along with the results of a survey he conducted for the ITU on the role of national governments in administering national internet domains (.sc for the Seychelles, for example).

"Contrary to most expectations," he writes, "the study finds virtually every government that responded to the survey either manages, retains direct control, or is contemplating formalizing its relationship with its ccTLD. This is true even for governments, such as the United States, that generally adopt a free-market approach to Internet matters."

47% of governments control their domain, 25% are attempting to assert ultimate authority, 20% are in the process of "formalizing their relationship" with the domain registrar, while only 7% plan to continue with a hands-off role.

Susan Crawford, meanwhile, has been listening in to the deliberations of ICANN's Names Council (sound file here), where Christopher Wilkinson (from the GAC secretariat) tells other participants "it is not helpful to tell the world that ICANN has no regulatory authority. If that's the message from the private sector, then many governments will say that the existing public/private partnership is not enough."

Crawford's take: ICANN knows that someone must be in charge of the various domain registries, but it can only pretend to be a regulator, as it doesn't really have the powers to insist on anything.

"At the moment, no one governs the Internet. ICANN isn't about Internet governance (whatever that means). ICANN worries about registries and number allocation. That's it. If the world wants to make rules about content and identity and intellectual property and cybercrime, the world will have to find another vessel. ICANN cannot bear that burden."

And one last point. Isn't it ironic that ICANN - which can at least lay claim to administering the internet - has one of the most confusing and difficult to navigate websites the world has seen?

Update: KnowProSE says the answer is simple: "An autonomous eGovernment for the Internet which comprises representatives from every country."
David Steven @ December 1, 2003 11:13 AM | TrackBack

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