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Nations Urge U.S. to Cede Internet Control

Martin Selmayr, an EU spokesman, said the 25-nation European bloc was the one celebrating after the deal was reached.

The EU had stepped up pressure for more international participation after the United States declared in June that it would not cede control over the Internet, as many had been led to believe.


From left, Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union Toshio Utsumi of Japan, General-Secretary of the United Nation Kofi Annan and President of Tunisia Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, listening to the speeches of the opening session of the World Summit on the Information Society at the convention center in Kram, 10 kms(6 mls) north of Tunis, Tunisia, Wednesday Nov. 16, 2005. Negotiators from more than 100 countries agreed late Tuesday to leave the United States in charge of the Internet's addressing system, averting a U.S.-EU showdown at this week's U.N. technology summit. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
From left, Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union Toshio Utsumi of Japan, General-Secretary of the United Nation Kofi Annan and President of Tunisia Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, listening to the speeches of the opening session of the World Summit on the Information Society at the convention center in Kram, 10 kms(6 mls) north of Tunis, Tunisia, Wednesday Nov. 16, 2005. Negotiators from more than 100 countries agreed late Tuesday to leave the United States in charge of the Internet's addressing system, averting a U.S.-EU showdown at this week's U.N. technology summit. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) (Michel Euler - AP)

"What we see here is a clear indication that what they (the U.S.) said in June is not the last word and that we are back on track towards internationalization," he said. "We are back on track to what has been agreed with the Clinton administration already some years ago. We are back to cooperation."

Although Pakistan and other countries sought a takeover of that system by an international body such as the United Nations, negotiators ultimately agreed, as time ran out, to a create an open-ended international forum for raising important Internet issues. The forum, however, would have no binding authority.

"The U.S. has done a good job making the Internet safe for robust political discussion and commerce, but will gradually need to start recognizing international norms," said Frank Pasquale, a law school professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

Regardless of who claimed victory, delegates and officials involved in the talks said the new forum would give nations a stronger say in how the Internet works, including perhaps spurring the availability of domain suffixes in Chinese, Urdu and other languages.

"They want a seat at the table and they have a forum at which to have a seat," said Paul Kane, chairman of an organization for European country-code domain suffixes.

Currently, though names partially in another language are possible, the suffix _ the ".com" part _ remains in English.

The new group, the Internet Governance Forum, could also address any issue, such as spam or cybercrime, not currently covered by ICANN.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who would open the forum's first meeting perhaps early next year in Athens, denied the United Nations wanted to assume ICANN's day-to-day duties.

"Let me be absolutely clear: the United Nations does not want to take over, police or otherwise control the Internet," he said. "Day-to-day running of the Internet must be left to technical institutions, not least to shield it from the heat of day-to-day politics."

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On the Net:

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© 2005 The Associated Press