August 3, 2005, 12:00 AM

Steps needed to protect web from politically motivated attacks, group says

“If the Internet`s central coordination functions are seen as a U.S. strategic asset, the risks of deliberate disruption and politicization of the Internet can only increase," says a member of a group of academic experts on Internet policy.

 

A group of academic experts on Internet policy think America has dominated the Internet too long and should cede a say in how it operates to other parts of the world. The U.S. should assert leadership by advancing new proposals for cooperating with other countries in the oversight and supervision of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and by supporting the development of a global framework treaty that will protect the Internet`s unique freedoms while working jointly to resolve its problems, said a statement developed by the Syracuse University-based Internet Governance Project. The group released the statement during a symposium sponsored by the IGP and three other university programs to assess the final report of the U.N. Working Group on Internet Governance.

"While we can justly claim that the U.S. `invented` the Internet, with over a billion users now, US citizens are a small minority of the networked world,” Syracuse University professor Milton Mueller said. “If the Internet`s central coordination functions are seen as a U.S. strategic asset rather than as a neutral, globally-shared infrastructure, the risks of deliberate disruption and politicization of the Internet can only increase."

The symposium was the first public forum in the United States to review the U.N. Working Group`s report. The report will become the basis of international negotiations at the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva in September.

The group reports that much of the discussion at the symposium centered on a June 30 U.S. Commerce Department statement claiming that the U.S. government will "continue to maintain" its unilateral authority over the Internet`s domain name and addressing system. “That statement disappointed many in the global Internet community, who believed that the World Summit on the Information Society provided an opportunity to negotiate more open, multilateral governance arrangements,” the group said.

Markus Kummer, a Swiss diplomat who coordinated the U.N. Working Group on Internet Governance, noted in his speech that the U.N. Working Group identified unilateral U.S. control of the DNS root as one of the most important public policy issues facing the Internet. The WGIG is made up of an international group of 40 governmental representatives, business people, and public interest groups. Its report also called for the creation of a new global forum devoted to Internet issues where government, business, and civil society would have equal status.

 

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