- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The current system of Internet administration works and should remain unchanged, according to a resolution passed unanimously yesterday by the House of Representatives.

The resolution calls for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to continue managing the Internet’s domain name and addressing service. The California nonprofit has operated since 1998 under a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Commerce Department.

The legislation, which was introduced last month by Reps. John T. Doolittle, California Republican; Rick Boucher, Virginia Democrat; and Robert W. Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, passed 423-0.

U.S. officials made clear before this week’s U.N.-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, Tunisia, that they would reject any changes to the current Internet governance structure. Efforts there to give an international committee oversight authority were defeated Tuesday.

Delegates did agree to establish an international governance forum to discuss Web issues, but it will not have any binding authority.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday that “the United Nations does not want to ‘take over,’ police, or otherwise control the Internet.”

Mr. Annan thanked the U.S. for developing the Internet and “making it available to the world” and praised it for exercising its “oversight responsibilities fairly and honorably.”

But he stressed that it was time for more international participation in Internet governance issues.

Delegates from the countries favoring multinational control of the Internet said yesterday that the agreement was a stopgap measure.

Mr. Doolittle and his House counterparts remained skeptical of the United Nations’ intentions.

“The Internet is something we researched, funded, created and see through to its commercial success today,” Mr. Doolittle said yesterday. “I would not like to see China, or Saudi Arabia for that matter, in charge of the Internet.”

Mr. Boucher said he thinks ICANN’s memorandum of understanding with the Commerce Department, which is scheduled to end Sept. 30, should be renewed. He said he does not plan to introduce legislation calling for a permanent relationship between the two because the Bush administration has said it wants to continue the agreement.

Mr. Goodlatte and Mr. Doolittle agreed that a resolution to make Commerce Department oversight permanent was unnecessary, but said they would reconsider if an international body tried to take over supervision of ICANN.

David Gross, the State Department’s Internet policy chief and head of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. summit, said the new international forum had nothing to do with the U.S. government’s oversight of ICANN and “nothing in this meeting would have any impact” on those discussions.

Paul Twomey, ICANN’s president and chief executive, said several ministers at the Tunis summit had asked what would happen when the agreement with the Commerce Department expires next year. Mr. Twomey said he expects to complete the memorandum of understanding, but would not speculate on which, if any, oversight body would take over.

• Andrew Borowiec contributed from Tunis, Tunisia, to this story, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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