Other Nations Hope to Loosen U.S. Grip on Internet

In countless contexts and from every corner of the world, the internet is hailed as a revolutionary force, breaking down traditional barriers of class and nation with an inexorable flow of information. As its accessibility increases, the internet becomes more and more a tool of democracy and international cooperation. But this leveling playing field cannot smooth over an underlying reality: the majority of the World Wide Web’s millions of networks still can be traced to the internet’s original progenitor – and authority – the United States. Icann, or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a California-based NGO under the oversight of the US Commerce Department, controls much of the internet’s protocols for addresses and registries. When Libya’s “.ly” domain malfunctioned, the nation’s entire communications infrastructure became beholden to the dictates of this US agency. Truly globalizing internet monitors is one of the more contentious items slated for a massive United Nations summit on information this week in Tunis. With 12,000 people expected in attendance, the summit may dramatize the significance of this wrangling over internet policy – a debate which raises questions over the very nature of privatizing and decentralizing nodes of information and fears over the role of national governments in telecommunications. Ultimately, as Milton Mueller, partner with the watchdog Internet Project organization, laments, “the United States holds most of the cards, and if it isn't willing to give any up, it can't be forced to.” – YaleGlobal

Other Nations Hope to Loosen U.S. Grip on Internet

Victoria Shannon
Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Click here for the original article on The New York Times website.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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