Rice letter instrumental in keeping US control over internet

[JURIST Europe] A letter from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may have been instrumental in preventing the UN’s World Summit on the Information Society [JURIST report] last month from making changes to the current control structure of the internet. The letter, co-signed by US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, was sent to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw whose country currently holds the EU Presidency [official website]. The letter, dated November 7, read in part:

The governance structure and continued stability and sustainability of the Internet are of paramount importance to the United States. The Internet has become an essential infrastructure for global communications, including for global trade and commerce, and therefore we firmly believe that support for the present structures for Internet governance is vital. These structures have proven to be a reliable foundation for the robust growth of the Internet we have seen over the course of the last decade...

The Internet will reach its full potential as a medium and facilitator for global economic expansion and development in an environment free from burdensome intergovernmental oversight and control. The success of the Internet lies in its inherently decentralized nature, with the most significant growth taking place at the outer edges of the network through innovative new applications and services. Burdensome, bureaucratic oversight is out of place in an Internet structure that has worked so well for many around the globe. We regret the recent positions on Internet governance(i.e., the “new cooperation model”) offered by the European Union, the Presidency of which is currently held by the United Kingdom, seems to propose just that - a new structure of intergovernmental control over the Internet...

The United States and the European Union have long worked together toward the goal of global access to the Internet. The WSIS offers us the opportunity to reaffirm our partnership to spread the benefits of the Internet globally. At the same time, the security and stability of the Internet are essential to the United States, the European Union, and to the world. We firmly believe that the existing Internet system balances the stability and security we need with the innovation and dynamism that private sector leadership provides.
The US succeeded at the Summit in lobbying world leaders against proposed changes that would involve groups like the European Union, and left the California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) [official website] in charge of the internet’s root servers and naming system. The full text of the letter can be found here. The Guardian has more.

Tatyana Margolin is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.

 

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