The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has for years played a major role in top-level domains around the world, a role that has been delegated to it by Washington.
But a number of governments have over the years been critical of ICANN’s role, suspecting it is being influenced behind closed doors by the U.S. government. Some of that spilled out in December, 2012 at a global telecom summit when there was a fight over the wording of an international treaty.
Recent revelations of the extent of U.S. electronic spying by former NSA contactor Edward Snowden haven’t helped.
As a result, there have been increased calls for ICANN and other independent groups that work on Internet standards to change their structures.
The latest came Wednesday from the European Union’s digital agenda chief, Neelie Kroes, who said Internet governance must become more global.
She was quoted by IDG News as calling for ICANN to become more transparent and accountable. At the same time she presented the European Commission’s new policy on Internet governance, which rejects any government takeover of Internet governance.
Her remarks were the latest in a number of voices that have called for a multi-stakeholder model for Internet governance, being interpreted as a way for governments to sit beside academics and non-profit agencies to set out Internet standards.
It may take some time for a compromise to be ironed out to everyone’s satisfaction. Meanwhile, ICANN will hold a one hour webinar on the issue on Monday, Feb. 17 starting at 7 am. Eastern.