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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)

    ITU WSIS "Addresses" ICANN
    posted by Mueller on Wednesday July 16 2003, @01:21PM

    The ITU-run World Summit on the Information Society is holding an intersessional meeting at UNESCO in Paris, France this week.

    For those of you who didn't know, WSIS is a big, fat, slow-moving United Nations process that will run a “declaration of principles” and a “plan of action” through a lower intestine-like maze of multilayered committees and meetings over the course of three years. WSIS includes, in addition to the usual representatives of government and business, representation from civil society, organized under a “Civil Society Bureau” (only an intergovernmental organization could bureaucratize the concept of civil society without a hint of irony or self-consciousness).

    WSIS’s draft declaration caught attention in ICANN circles recently when it called for ICANN’s functions to be performed by “a suitable international, inter-governmental organization.” Take that, Ira Magaziner! AT&T’s Marilyn Cade and other ardent supporters of private sector self-regulation were moderately alarmed.

    But, at the Paris meeting today, the Civil Society groups’ Internet Governance Caucus apparently repudiated the statement.

    In the WSIS "Draft Declaration of principles" of March 2003, Internet governance was addressed in the following paragraph:

    "Management of Internet names and addresses: Internet governance must be multilateral, democratic and transparent, taking into account the needs of the public and private sectors as well as those of the civil society, and respecting multilingualism. The coordination responsibility for root servers, domain names, and Internet Protocol (IP) address assignment should rest with a suitable international, inter-governmental organization. The policy authority for country code top-level-domain names (ccTLDs) should be the sovereign right of countries."

    On Wednesday, Wolfgang Kleinwachter of the civil society groups' Internet Governance Caucus issued a statement taking issue with the draft. "We see NO need to for any INTER-GOVERNMENTAL organization to take responsibility for management of the domain names and the IP addresses," Kleinwachter wrote, "but we see a need for ongoing improvement of the existing structures and mechanisms." He added: "Additionally, civil society would welcome having organizations dealing with public policy issues of the Internet improve their cooperation and coordination and include all stakeholders, in particular civil society, in their policy development processes."

    Kleinwachter spared ICANN of any criticism for creating an unbalanced representational structure, for example giving multinational telephone companies three constituencies in the GNSO (BC, ISPCC, and IPCC), and all noncommercial organizations only one.

    Kleinwachter did, however, call for launching a tripartite "Global Information Society Observation Council" composed of representatives of government, private industry and civil society. Its purpose would be to "promote the exchange of information, experiences and best practices on issues from privacy to free speech on the Internet, from IPR to eCommerce, from Ipv6 to ENUM."

    WSIS is fundamentally an attempt by an old regime of territorial states (represented by ITU, and the UN itself) to achieve relevance in an increasingly globalized, de-territorialized information economy. By bringing in civil society, they dramatically expanded interest and participation in the event. However, the inevitable agenda of the gathering is to strengthen the role of governments in the information society, so it will be interesting to see how its paragraph about ICANN turns out.

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