A United Nations panel has failed to reach a consensus on which authority should run the internet, but has concluded that no single country should control traffic.
The report flies in the face of statements from the US government that it intends to keep control of internet domain name servers to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) or any other international body.
The UN Working Group on Internet Governance was asked in 2003 to prepare the report by government heads at the World Summit on the Information Society. Members of the group were drawn from the public and private sectors.
It highlighted US control of domain name servers as the primary public policy issue with the internet.
The UN report outlines four strategies for future control of the internet, based on three basic principles:
- No single government should have a pre-eminent role in relation to international internet governance
- The organisational form for the governance function will be multilateral, transparent and democratic, with the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations
- The organisational form for the governance function will involve all stakeholders and relevant inter-governmental and international organisations within their respective roles.
The models include setting up a Global Internet Council to handle control, and expanding and internationalising the existing Icann Government Advisory Committee, creating a new International Internet Council to replace the committee or the creation of three new UN bodies.
The US can currently shut down more than 250 top-level domains using Icann, and holds 10 of the world's 13 domain name servers.
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