ITU Ready to Assume Control of Net

The head of the International Telecommunications Union says the United Nations stands ready to take over control of the Internet if the United States relinquishes control as it is being pressured to.

Yoshio Utsumi said the ITU "could do it if we were asked to" at a news conference Friday. However, it appears the chances of such an event happening are slim to none.

The United States has made it clear that it has no intentions of turning its Internet traffic policing duties over to the United Nations, much to the chagrin of a majority of the rest of the world. The stance threatens to create a roadblock in international Web policy for the foreseeable future.

Currently, California-based ICANN controls the direction of net traffic through a partnership with the US Government.

"We will not agree to the United Nations taking over management of the Internet," U.S. State Department official David Gross told reporters, saying the government finds such a solution "unacceptable."

At issue is countries like Iran, who say the United States could use control of the Internet for political gain, and to shut its enemies out. The U.S. calls such talk nonsense, saying it never would harm the operation of the Internet in that manner.

The United Nations will hold an Information Society Summit in Tunis, Tunisia in mid-November, and the argument will likely overshadow any other topics discussed at the meeting. It is expected that the issue will be raised during the three-day summit.

The European Union said that the United States must realize that some countries will not accept the fact that Americans control the Internet in their country. Thus, the EU is planning to suggest the Internet and ICANN fall under International law instead of U.S. law as it does in the current system.

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