UN Conference Convenes on Net Control

At a conference in Greece aimed at continuing the discussion over who should control the Internet, the United Nations once again renewed calls for diminishing the U.S. government's influence over ICANN. Additionally, an UN official said parties were growing tired of the argument that most did not understand the need for U.S. control.

International Telecommunications Union Secretary General Yoshio Utsumi said that no matter what has been said before or has been agreed upon, no one "can eternally claim they are the best." However, the most critical governments -- including Cuba, Iran and China -- are some of the most oppressive when it comes to free speech.

High-profile human-rights groups, who note the only clear alternative has come from these countries, have criticized the group's proposal, which calls for the UN to take complete control of the Internet.

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"In view of the UN's negligent attitude to human rights - don't forget that its ad hoc commission was chaired by Libya - this is an alarming idea," Reporters Without Borders said. "Do we really want the countries that censor the Internet and jail cyber-dissidents to be in charge of the online flow of information?"

Reporters Without Borders did agree, however, that the United States should not have sole control of the system, but warned that any new proposal should not be controlled by any government, and work to satisfy free speech concerns.

Utsumi was joined in the calls for decentralization by the prime minister of Greece, Konstantnnos Karamanlns, and Viviane Reding, the European Commission's Commissioner for Information Society and Media. All seemed to agree that preserving democracy on the Internet itself should be central to the discussions held in Greece this week.

It should be noted that no U.S. representative made any statements at the conference, press reports indicate.

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