INFORMATION SOCIETY : EU LINES UP TROOPS IN BATTLE FOR CONTROL OF THE INTERNET.

 
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It is time to globalise decisions by ICANN, the only real policing body on the internet, the European Commission said in a communication on internet governance, adopted on 12 February.

The EU executive hopes that member states will come together to validate this position during the next Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, which will take place on 23-24 April inaSao Paulo, Brazil. The matter will be discussed during a technical meeting at the Council next week, and the Commission also hopes for a debate at the European Parliament in the near future.

This "does not mean imposing government controls" on the system, Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said. Nonetheless, she added: "We cannot act as if everything is fine, particularly after the NSA scandal, which has broken trust in the internet".

TRANSPARENT, INCLUSIVE, RESPONSIBLE

Kroes hopes to "globalise the current multinational model, to make it transparent, inclusive and responsible". She does not want to propose new authorities, but rather "finally move from words to actions".

The first battle to be won concerns ICANN, the body that allocates domain names on the internet, and IANA, which delivers IP addresses - two American bodies that the EU has been fighting for years to 'globalise'. The Commission recognises that since 2009, ICANN has taken initiatives to internationalise its functions, but adds that "ICANN's status under Californian law with a contractual relationship to a single country has not changed". The EU would therefore like the Sao Paulo conference to decide on a clear "calendar for action".

PUBLIC AUTHORITIES?

The second point of attack concerns enhancing the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a body for cooperation set up under the influence of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). The Commission hopes that the role of different actors will be clarified, and mechanisms for responsibility will be established, for example via 'peer controls'. In this context, while 'multilateral' includes governments, civil society, industry, international organisations... the Commission emphasises that public authorities have a duty and a "democratic legitimacy" to fulfil their public policy responsibilities where those are compatible with universal human rights.

The third pillar of the strategy is an inclusive decision making process. The Commission proposes launching a "global internet policy observatory" in 2014, which...

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