Does the internet belong to America, or to the world? That is the essential question being asked by the UN. They are seeking to have the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body that governs internet addresses, absorbed into the UN’s International Telecommunications Union. Why? Because UN countries do not like the fact they can’t influence the internet (such as President Bush stopping .xxx domains from being established). They also dislike not being able to tax commerce on the internet.
Senator Norm Coleman (Republican, Minnesota) has introduced a new resolution to give the ICANN political protections for the coming World Summit on the Information Society. There is a fear that international governance could result in both taxes that may stifle internet commerce and censorship of websites by governments.
While the internet belongs to everyone, someone needs to watch over. The internet has developed into a network that is infused with freedom and choice, with success of individual sites mostly dictated by the world’s users. If control is given to other countries, sites may disappear due to political reasons. Or even worse, disputes will arise between multiple countries and certain issues could stagnate, resulting in a pressing matter not being addressed and UN time being taken up by something as petty as domain names.
I think ICANN has managed things fine. The UN should be moving to insure that ICANN in not interfered with, and that the internet stays as free as it is now — a global network without borders. It shouldn’t be moving to confine it.