Wednesday, November 16, 2005

US wins WSIS battle on ICANN oversight

Kieran McCarthy reports from the WSIS summit in Tunis:

An expected fight over the governance of the internet looked to have been averted last night as a tentative deal was struck which would allow the US government to retain overall control of the medium for the foreseeable future...

It is a far cry from the inter-governmental oversight body that was proposed by the European Union in September. That proposal, which shocked the US as much as it pleased Brazil, China and Iran, pushed the previously unnoticed issue of internet governance on to the world stage and turned the topic into the main focus of the WSIS.

Just as surprising as the EU's proposal, however, has been its failure to push that model in Tunis this week. In fiery opening statements, China and the US laid down their same, strong positions, but when it came to the EU to speak, delegation head David Hendon said only that it had "looked carefully at all positions, including our own" and deferred to the chair of the committee over which direction the meeting would take.
The EU was obviously stunned by the reaction to its proposal last month. A recent letter from Condoleeza Rice apparently also helped...

Meanwhile, Tunisia is living up to its repressive reputation. The EU has made an official complaint to the Tunisian government after 70 plainclothes police blocked a civil society meeting being hosted by the German UN ambassador. Ultimately the meeting went ahead at the EU's offices in Tunis.

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