Control of Internet in spotlight at Singapore talks

Control of Internet in spotlight at Singapore talks
Mr Fadi Chehade, chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann). The non-profit private organisation is responsible for the registry of Internet domain names and unique identifying addresses.

SINGAPORE - Stakeholders meet in Singapore Monday to discuss the future of the Internet after the US said it will hand over stewardship of its technical operations to a global group including businesses and governments.

The US Commerce Department's National Telecommunication and Information Administration announced the move on March 14, saying it marked the "final phase of the privatisation" of the Internet's domain name system.

Control of the web has taken on geopolitical overtones with countries including China and Russia wanting management to be turned over to a body of national governments, a push Washington has said would impinge on the Internet's openness.

The European Commission has also called for governance to become more global, but supports the US approach of having diverse stakeholders - not purely national governments - do the job.

The Singapore meeting, the first for the Internet community since the US announcement, is being convened by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which the US has tasked with guiding the creation of a transition plan.

ICANN, a US-based non-profit group, manages the master database for top level Internet domains like .com and .net and the corresponding numerical addresses under contract by the US government.

That contract expires in September 2015, by which time the technical back-end operations of the Internet are expected to be under its new administrators.

"The initial steps in that (transition) process will occur at our Singapore meeting, which will draw well over a thousand members of our community," said ICANN chief executive Fadi Chehade.

Those attending are a broad mix including representatives from the technical community such as Internet and IT organisations, businesses, governments, civil society groups and academia.

"The international multi-stakeholder community will be concentrating on building a proper foundation for the transition process," Chehade told AFP.

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