Domain of Liberty

Published: Saturday 15 March 2008

The superintendent of cyberspace wants to be independent. A recent meeting of the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (icann) in Delhi sought to end the us control over its operations. The body that oversees issuing Internet addresses is accountable to the us under a joint project agreement (jpa) which both the parties signed in 2006. The agreement expires in September 2009 and icann does not want status quo to continue. Paul Levins, vice-president-corporate affairs of icann, says, "Most of the country and business house representatives in icann have agreed on this." ICANN will meet the officials from the us department of commerce in March on this.

The us formed icann in 1998 and a decision to convert it into an international organisation was taken at the un World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva in 2001. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, the body which looks after global allocation of Internet protocol too have similar contract with the us. The member countries to icann also see a chance to end this obligation.

But this process might take time. "Sudden changes may create more problems than they will solve. The control needs to go, but gradually," said Eswari Pd Sharma, registry manager of the domain .np from Nepal. "How much of change will take place also depends on the structure of the us department of commerce after the polls," said Njeri Rionge, member of icann board from Kenya. Many countries have been highly vocal against us dominance. "There should not be any control. The Internet is free," said Jules Basubi from the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, the us is not willing. "The question is how to include more business organisations from different countries in icann rather than diluting the US control," said Doug Brent, member of icann from the us.

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