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RE: <nettime> ICANN or UN? (Declan)
cisler {AT} inreach.com on Fri, 12 Dec 2003 21:52:49 +0100 (CET)


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RE: <nettime> ICANN or UN? (Declan)


Of the thousands of delegates and unaccredited participants in Geneva, I
don't think many have the interest or much understanding of the
complexities about ICANN or broader issues of Internet governance. That's
one reason why there was not more discussion about alternatives to ICANN.  
All that was put on the table was the one about the ITU. ICANN was just
one small ingredient in the big tossed salad of WSIS

Because the proposal before WSIS was to hand over Internet governance,
such as it is currently, to the ITU, the status quo is being defended by a
number of parties--not just some axis of libertarians-US Govt.
bureaucrats-Internet Society-American nerds.  My guess is that the
countries pushing for this (Brazil, some African countries, China, etc)
either did not know or chose to ignore the history of ITU's involvement
with the Internet. They only saw the issue in terms of "US control of the
Internet."

Part of the problem with the ITU was its backing of protocols and a very
very long standards process that was inferior to the process used by the
Internet Engineering Task Force.  While you had to buy the OSI standards
from the ITU, the TCP/IP protocols were available for free (if you were
online) and if you had the knowledge you could participate in the IETF.  
ITU members like France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom long resisted the
Internet. They were pushing Minitel, ISDN. African members saw
(rightfully) how disruptive the Internet could be and resisted it.

The ITU was shocked by the growth of the Internet, and they have belatedly
wanted to 'control' it.  The failed WSIS proposal is just the latest
attempt.  Of course during this growing awareness of the importance of the
Internet, the composition of the ITU has changed from almost exclusively
government telcos (or PTT's) to a mix of old style government monopolies,
dual governement-private, and straight corporate telephone companies.

Perhaps during the two years before the followup conference in Tunis (if
it really happens) there will be time to propose other alternatives to
ICANN.

Steve Cisler 


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