FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, September 30, 2005

US, UN, EU Battle for Control of the Net

The US government has deemed "unacceptable" a proposal from the European Union that would put the Internet under United Nations control. Currently, the core routing computers that run the Internet and house its master directories are run by ICANN, a private organization that is supervised by the US Department of Commerce.

Some countries argue that placing the Internet under international management would better serve developing countries that are increasingly relying on networked communication. The US counters that doing so could make the Internet vulnerable to the whims of rogue countries such as North Korea, or larger powers such as China that don't support principles of free speech.

The matter of Internet control is an important one, as that control implies substantial power. A body with such power (as the Commerce Department has now) can easily shut down entire domains or filter out certain content on a global level. As more people around the world come to rely on Internet communications, online access will be increasingly seen as a fundamental resource like water and energy. Individuals will regard access as a human right; nations will consider it a strategic asset. Denial of Internet access by one country to another could one day even be considered grounds for international sanctions, embargoes and even war.

Source: AP (USA Today)