Who Should “Control” the Internet?

Controversy is brewing over U.S. “control” of the internet.? Essentially, the Internet Corportation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), created by the Clinton Administration, allocates most internet addresses and top-level domains.? While its body is made up of members from diverse countries, developing nations protest that it is too biased toward wealthier nations.? They are calling for the United Nations to be placed in charge of setting internet standards and creating regulations.

“Dozens of delegates from developing nations echoed Annan’s remarks throughout the rest of the day, arguing that their governments do not have a voice in the way the Internet is operated and that more money and investment from rich nations is the only way to end the so-called digital divide.”?United Nations Ponders Nets Future.

Also, “Cuba’s delegate, Juan Fernandez, was busy lobbying for help with the so-called interconnection problem.? Fernandez…complained that ?it was unfair for poorer countries to pay such high Internet bills–currently, whoever connects pays for the traffic, and more Cubans browse American Web sites than the other way around.”? Consider also the issue of spam, which comes mostly from developed nations, but also affects developing nations.

Annan has said that access to IT resources is essential to country development.? With difficulty in gaining access to these resources compounded by little say in how the internet is run, will the BOP suffer even more from lack of say in regulations and assignment of IP addresses?

Some countries are proposing a “split root” – a solution that would allow a country to assign its own internet domains.? The downside – a “Balkanized internet where two computers find different Web sites at the same address.”

The U.S. has recently declared that it plans on retaining its power of assigning internet domain names.

Is a voice in control over the internet essential for developing countries to “bridge the digital divide” and start building business – and, if so, is the United Nations the best body to do this?