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November 20, 2005

Developments in Review: World Internet Governance

The World Summit on the Information Society took place in Tunisa recently.  The gathering was marked by reports of the host country clamping down on press rights and censoring Internet traffic within that nation.  Called to debate the management of top level domains, a lot of political laundry regarding the nature an use of the Internet was aired. 

Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe said "Those who have supported nihilistic and disorderly freedom of expression are beginning to see the fruits" (of their efforts).  Mugabe's administration has been cited in the western press as authoritarian and corrupt, especially in regard to the last presidential election.  Human rights is another area where unfettered Internet speech seems to have cast a negative image on Zimbabwe and Mugabe.  Iranian and Cuban representatives to the meeting also criticized the structure of the Internet which is used for the "propagation of falsehoods," at least according to the Iranian representative.

The main issue that was discussed at the conference was the potential to replace the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) with a group that was based within the United Nations.  The United States has been cool to the idea of transferring governance to an international body, concerned that free speech rights would be curtailed by participating governments who, in turn, frown on internal dissent.  The U.S. announced long before the conference that the U.S. will not give up control of the Internet's root.

So what came out of all this?  The U.S. agreed to the creation of the Internet Governance Forum which will discuss Internet governance issues.  The full document creating the forum is here.  Until something else happens, not much has changed, if anything at all.

November 20, 2005 | Permalink


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