27 July 2006

At Last! Opening Up the ICANN of Worms

I have been writing about the Internet since 1994, and about ICANN, the body that oversees the domain name system, since 1999. Unfortunately, in those seven years, ICANN has confirmed the fears of myself and many other observers about the stultifying effect it would have on the functioning of the Internet.

Given that ICANN was backed by the US Government, which is not known for its sensitivity to the views of others, especially mere foreigners, I had largely resigned myself to this sorry state of affairs. But miraculously, something seems to have happened:

In a meeting that will go down in internet history, the United States government last night conceded that it can no longer expect to maintain its position as the ultimate authority over the internet.

Having been the internet's instigator and, since 1998, its voluntary taskmaster, the US government finally agreed to transition its control over not-for-profit internet overseeing organisation ICANN, making the organisation a more international body.

For me, the main thing to come out of this is the hope that ICANN might finally be forced to open up its totally inappropriate secrecy, and as a result that maybe - just maybe - it will start serving the Internet community in the way it was supposed to all those years ago.

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