U.N. Must Earn Net Role
Opinion: The United Nations must prove its worthiness for a seat at the table of Internet governance.The United Nations working group on Internet governance meets in Geneva next week to continue its work to define how it thinks the Internet should be run and by whom. The group, set up by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan last year, is due to deliver a report in July that will outline the steps the U.N. should take to play a central role in the development and management of the Internet. The U.N. has been trying to carve itself a role in Internet governance for years through its International Telecommunication Union agency. The ITUs desire to play a larger role in running the Internet has been met with opposition from the United States and members of the global Internet community, particularly the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.
We have said in the pastand we continue to assertthat the Internet should allow any protocol and any form of content to pass among mutually consenting parties. Were concerned that Third World U.N. members that do not tolerate free expression will use any involvement in running the Internet as an opportunity to impose limitations consistent with their outlook. Despite problems, we appreciate the Internets present level of freedom and believe firmly it should not become less free. ICANN and its de facto governing partners, the Internet Engineering Task Force and the World Wide Web Consortium, may have bouts of arrogance and indifference, but they have no interest in censoring, constraining or controlling Internet content.