How Global Should the Internet Be?

Anyone interested in a background to the main issues being discussed at this week’s ICANN meeting in Paris, and for most these issues are the introduction of new top level domains and internationalised domain names, and you want a bit of a background, check out this BusinessWeek article.

Domain names are a sore point with nations who use alphabets other than Roman. Now, the group that oversees domain names is trying to translate

Lest you think a U.N. meeting to discuss the future of the Internet would be a ponderous, low-key affair, consider this remarkable tale. Back in 2003, when the U.N. held just such an event in Geneva, the delegates unexpectedly decided to close the meeting to nongovernmental officials and to eject a handful of attendees. One of them was Paul Twomey—president of the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN), a private, nonprofit company that oversees technical aspects of the Internet’s address system—who was escorted by guards to the exit.

The surprising turn of events underscored the simmering resentment felt by many nations, especially in the developing world, over the governance of the Internet. They had been vexed for years about what they perceived as a lack of voice in how the Net was run—and by the continued U.S. ownership of key Internet resources. Some said that excluding ICANN, which works under contract to the U.S. government, was a fitting lesson in powerlessness for an organization that had enjoyed sweeping control since its founding in 1998.

To read this BusinessWeek article in full, see businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/jun2008/gb20080623_136988.htm.