EU calls for globalisation of Web governance

European Commission drafts proposals to wrest control of ICANN from US
Kroes: The next two years will be critical in redrawing the global map of Internet governance. (Getty Images)
Kroes: The next two years will be critical in redrawing the global map of Internet governance. (Getty Images)


The European Commission called for more globalised control of the Internet today, as officials outlined proposals that would challenge US dominance of key infrastructure, online media reported.

The proposals are centred on international control of domain name allocation, a role currently fulfilled by US-based non-profit organisation, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

In December 2012 a Dubai-hosted summit convened by the UN’s telecom watchdog, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), gave rise to a bitter schism that largely pitted East against West over the issue of Internet governance.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia were among those nations, led by Russia, who advocated stricter policing of cyberspace. They were joined by China and several African countries, together signing Russian proposals that included calls for an end to the US-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' (ICANN) control over Internet naming and addressing. The pro-control group was also keen to control Web content and eliminate Internet anonymity.

Among those refusing to sign were the US and much of Europe, nations that expressed concerns over proposals to formally regulate the Internet through governmental control. The pro-control group eventually withdrew its proposal and the summit ended in a stalemate.

But now, European officials are claiming loss of confidence in the US’ suitability as the dominant force in Internet governance, following revelations about US spy agency surveillance programmes.

"I agree that governments have a crucial role to play, but top-down approaches are not the right answer," said European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes. "We must strengthen the multi-stakeholder model to preserve the Internet as a fast engine for innovation."

Any progress on moves towards global governance would require transparency on Internet policies and clear regulatory framework said Kroes.

"The next two years will be critical in redrawing the global map of Internet governance," said Kroes. "Europe must play a strong role in defining what the Net of the future looks like."

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