The affirmation, from Obama appointee Penny Pritzker, is the latest round in a long-running battle over who will control the Internet.
Many countries, mainly in the West, support the US Government’s decision to transfer stewardship of the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) and other Internet management functions to the ‘global multistakeholder’ community and not to any one single organisation.
Many other countries are arguing for these functions to be transferred to the International Telecommunications Union ITU), which is part of the UN, where they could be controlled in a similar manner to the way in which the ITU sets international rules for telephony. Critics see that a sa precursor to Government control of the Internet.
Pritzker’s comments came at her address tp over 2000 attendees at the opening ceremony of ICANN’s 51st public meeting in Los Angeles. ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the body set up to allocate IP addresses on the Internet.
“Let me be clear about this. The US will not allow the global Internet to be co-opted by any person, entity or nation seeking to substitute their parochial world view for the collective wisdom of this community,” said Pritzker, in an obvious dig at the ITU.
The issue came to a head at the ITU meeting in Doha in December 2012, when there was a major split between the two sides, who were unable to issue a joint communique for the first time in the organisation’s history. The ‘multistakeholder’ side has been winning since then, but the battle is far from over.
“If we don't strive to improve our governance and accountability at all times, and especially this time, we will not gain and maintain the confidence of the world,” said Fadi Chehadé, ICANN’s CEO. “ICANN and the ICANN community are committed to the best possible governance and accountability mechanisms there are.”
The IANA Stewardship Coordination Group (ICG) will be meeting during the week to continue their discussion on how the NTIA will go about transitioning its stewardship of the IANA functions to the Internet community.
“We have to get this transition right,” said Pritzker. “Make no mistake: I stand by ICANN. I am all in when it comes to the global debate over Internet governance. And we will preserve and protect a free and open Internet.”