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Symposium 2011

Solution for Internet Governance Structures

The Challenge

The rapid development of the internet has prompted a debate about how to shape internet governance, a project that is still very much in its infancy. It can be assumed that whoever controls the basic ...

The rapid development of the internet has prompted a debate about how to shape internet governance, a project that is still very much in its infancy. It can be assumed that whoever controls the basic structure of the internet (what are known as “critical internet resources”) also has the power to exercise control over content.

Improve ICANN’s transparency and accountability by taking account of the different views of all stakeholders.

The cornerstone of the Internet’s current multistakeholder structure is ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. On the one hand, ICANN is often criticized for the lack of transparency and the apparent influence of the US government as, for historic reasons, the US Department of Commerce controls ICANN. Developing countries have called for that link to be broken, with ICANN converted into a UN body.

On the other hand, others point to the US’s benign governance. For example, when ICANN voted to allow the creation of a “xxx” domain for adult content, the US government approved the move despite opposing it politically, observing that as long as all ICANN procedures were followed, it would not go against the wishes of the Internet community.

These opposing views of ICANN´s role show how important it is to find instruments that make ICANN commonly accepted and recognized as public agency of global governance. One agreement that could be a significant milestone in this direction is the Affirmation of Commitment that exposes ICANN to public oversight—a step towards internationalizing the control of the governance of the domain name system.

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