Is The Guardian Engaging In Wishful Thinking?Let's hope so.
After troubled negotiations in Geneva, the US may be forced to relinquish control of the internet to a coalition of governmentsThe Bush Admin has been a little, shall we say, quirky of late. But this is one battleground they better not cede.
The issue of who should control the net had proved an extremely divisive issue, and for 11 days the world's governments traded blows. For the vast majority of people who use the internet, the only real concern is getting on it. But with the internet now essential to countries' basic infrastructure - Brazil relies on it for 90% of its tax collection - the question of who has control has become critical.I love the obvious editorializing here in the technology section. "The unwelcome answer for many." Yes, I suppose that is the case if you hate America first! And which countries fall into that category?
And the unwelcome answer for many is that it is the US government. In the early days, an enlightened Department of Commerce (DoC) pushed and funded expansion of the internet. And when it became global, it created a private company, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) to run it.
But the DoC retained overall control, and in June stated what many had always feared: that it would retain indefinite control of the internet's foundation - its "root servers", which act as the basic directory for the whole internet.
A number of countries represented in Geneva, including Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran and several African states, insisted the US give up control, but it refused.Meanwhile, who should control it? The UN? With a rotating chair to be held by freedom-loving countries like China and Sudan and Iran?
Shall we give the regulation loving EUniks the go-ahead?
But the refusal to budge only strengthened opposition, and now the world's governments are expected to agree a deal to award themselves ultimate control. It will be officially raised at a UN summit of world leaders next month and, faced with international consensus, there is little the US government can do but acquiesce.Hello? Has The Guardian ever heard of the irascible John Bolton? He eats Guardian reporters for lunch. Or noticed that Bush is in a stubborn mood?
But will this move mean, as the US ambassador David Gross argued, that "even on technical details, the industry will have to follow government-set policies, UN-set policies"?
No, according to Nitin Desai, the UN's special adviser on internet governance. "There is clearly an acceptance here that governments are not concerned with the technical and operational management of the internet. Standards are set by the users."
Hendon is also adamant: "The really important point is that the EU doesn't want to see this change as bringing new government control over the internet. Governments will only be involved where they need to be and only on issues setting the top-level framework."
Ah yes. I believe that China, Iran, Cuba, Brazil and several African states have no interest at all in setting new government regulation over the internet. None! at! all!
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