SINGAPORE: The head of the Internet regulator says a push from China and Russia for governments to control the web will be “dead on arrival” but that he hopes a consensus will emerge before the United States cedes its oversight role.
Fadi Chehade, chief executive of the US-linked Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), said Washington is committed to hand over the reins only to a diverse group representing business, civil society, academia and governments.
The US Department of Commerce has said it will next year relinquish control over ICANN, which controls Internet website addresses globally, as part of longstanding efforts to privatise the running of the web.
But it warned that if the United States deems the replacement oversight model unacceptable, it has the prerogative to continue its stewardship role and renew ICANN’s contract for a further four years.
“The US government made it a condition to let go that the replacement is not government-oriented, government-controlled or government-centric,” Che-hade said on the sidelines of this week’s CommunicAsia telecom trade fair in Singapore.
Several countries including China and Russia want ICANN to be supervised by an inter-governmental body, a proposal that critics say will provide a powerful tool to repressive regimes.
Chehade said that a coordinating committee will begin deliberations on the replacement model next month and that if it emerges with a government-dominated concept, “the United States will send us back home. It is dead on arrival.”
“We know already the cadre of what will be accepted, it has already been set,” he said.
Since 1998, ICANN has controlled domain names like .com and .org under a contract with the US government that expires in September 2015. — AFP