A senior U.S. official rejected calls Thursday for a U.N. body to take over control of the main computers that direct traffic on the Internet, reiterating U.S. intentions to keep its historical role as the medium’s principal overseer.
“We will not agree to the U.N. taking over the management of the Internet,” said Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy at the State Department. “Some countries want that. We think that’s unacceptable.”
Many countries, particularly developing ones, have become increasingly concerned about the U.S. control, which stems from the nation’s role in creating the Internet as a Pentagon project and funding much of its early development.
Gross was in Geneva for the last preparatory meeting before November’s U.N. World Summit on the Information Society, to be held in Tunisia.
Some negotiators from other countries said there was a growing sense that a compromise had to be reached and that no single country ought to be the ultimate authority over such a vital part of the global economy.
Gross said that progress was being made on a number of issues but that the question of Internet governance remained contentious.
A stalemate over who should serve as the principal traffic cops for Internet routing and addressing could derail the summit, which aims to ensure a fair sharing of the Internet for the benefit of the whole world.
Some countries have been frustrated that the United States and European countries that went on the Internet first gobbled up most of the available addresses required for computers to connect.
They also want greater assurance that as they come to rely on the Internet more for governmental and other services, their plans won’t get derailed by some future U.S. policy.
One proposal that countries have been discussing would wrest control of domain names from the U.S.-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and place it with an intergovernmental group.
Gross dismissed it as unacceptable.