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Subject: [IP] more on The U.N. Isn't a Threat to the Net

  • From: David Farber <>
  • To:
  • Date: Sun, 06 Nov 2005 10:39:29 -0500

Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <>
Date: November 6, 2005 12:31:18 AM EST
Cc: 'Dewayne Hendricks' <>
Subject: RE: [IP] The U.N. Isn't a Threat to the Net

It would be interesting to know what he thinks the Internet is. It's more
an idea than something physical. I don't trust ICANN and want to remove the
design flaws that create a need for such a central policy body. I'm more
afraid of those who want to improve ICANN.

These comments seem to be about social policies due to connectivity and I
fear any attempt to impose social policies on the plumbing. The DNS has
done enough damage.

I would feel much better about these remarks if he talked about the lack of
availability of connectivity due to policies of countries and carriers.
These are issues that the UN can and should be addressing independent of
any issues with ICANN.

Instead he seems to be focus on the problem of too much availability.

To paraphrase Shakespeare -- he has come to praise the Internet, not
control it. If only the words backed up such a claim.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Farber []
Sent: Saturday, November 05, 2005 21:00
Subject: [IP] The U.N. Isn't a Threat to the Net

Begin forwarded message:

From: Dewayne Hendricks <>
Date: November 5, 2005 7:14:40 PM EST
To: Dewayne-Net Technology List <>
Subject: [Dewayne-Net] The U.N. Isn't a Threat to the Net

The U.N. Isn't a Threat to the Net
By Kofi A. Annan
Saturday, November 5, 2005; A19


The main objective of the World Summit on the Information Society to
be held this month in Tunisia is to ensure that poor countries get
the full benefits that new information and communication technologies
-- including the Internet -- can bring to economic and social
development. But as the meeting draws nearer, there is a growing
chorus of misinformation about it.

One mistaken notion is that the United Nations wants to &quot;take over,&quot;
police or otherwise control the Internet. Nothing could be farther
from the truth. The United Nations wants only to ensure the
Internet's global reach, and that effort is at the heart of this summit.

Strong feelings about protecting the Internet are to be expected. In
its short life, the Internet has become an agent of revolutionary
change in health, education, journalism and politics, among other
areas. In the United Nations' own work for development, we have
glimpsed only the beginning of the benefits it can provide: for
victims of disaster, quicker, better-coordinated relief; for poor
people in remote areas, lifesaving medical information; and, for
people trapped under repressive governments, access to uncensored
information as well as an outlet to air their grievances and appeal
for help.

There are also legitimate concerns about the use of the Internet to
incite terrorism or help terrorists, disseminate pornography,
facilitate illegal activities or glorify Nazism and other hateful
ideologies. But censoring cyberspace, compromising its technical
underpinnings or submitting it to stringent governmental oversight
would mean turning our backs on one of today's greatest instruments
of progress. To defend the Internet is to defend freedom itself.

Governance of matters related to the Internet, such as spam and
cybercrime, is being dealt with in a dispersed and fragmented manner,
while the Internet's infrastructure has been managed in an informal
but effective collaboration among private businesses, civil society
and the academic and technical communities. But developing countries
find it difficult to follow all these processes and feel left out of
Internet governance structures.

The United States deserves our thanks for having developed the
Internet and made it available to the world. For historical reasons,
the United States has the ultimate authority over some of the
Internet's core resources. It is an authority that many say should be
shared with the international community. The United States, which has
exercised its oversight responsibilities fairly and honorably,
recognizes that other governments have legitimate public policy and
sovereignty concerns, and that efforts to make the governance
arrangements more international should continue.

The need for change is a reflection of the future, when Internet
growth will be most dramatic in developing countries. What we are
seeing is the beginning of a dialogue between two different cultures:
the nongovernmental Internet community, with its traditions of
informal, bottom-up decision making, and the more formal, structured
world of governments and intergovernmental organizations.

The Internet has become so important for almost every country's
economy and administration that it would be naive to expect
governments not to take an interest, especially since public service
applications in areas such as education and health care will become
even more widespread. They need to be able to get their Internet
policies &quot;right,&quot; and to coordinate with each other and with the
Internet community. But governments alone cannot set the rules. They
must learn to work with non-state stakeholders. They, after all, are
the ones that have played critical roles in building and coordinating
the Internet, and they will remain the driving force of further
expansion and innovation.

At the summit two years ago in Geneva, discussions on Internet
governance reached a stalemate. So the U.N. member states asked me to
establish a group to examine the issue further. This Working Group on
Internet Governance presented its findings in a report that reflects
the views of its members, but not of the United Nations. It proposed
creation of a &quot;new space for dialogue&quot; -- a forum that would bring
all stakeholders together to share information and best practices and
discuss difficult issues, but that would not have decision-making power.

The group also offered several options for oversight arrangements,
with varying degrees of government involvement and relationship to
the United Nations. None says that the United Nations should take
over from the technical bodies now running the Internet; none
proposes to create a new U.N. agency; and some suggest no U.N. role
at all. All say that the day-to-day management of the Internet should
be left to technical institutions, not least to shield it from the
heat of day-to-day politics. These and other suggestions are being
considered by U.N. member states.

Everyone acknowledges the need for more international participation
in discussions of Internet governance. The disagreement is over how
to achieve it. So let's set aside fears of U.N. &quot;designs&quot; on the
Internet. Much as some would like to open up another front of attack
on the United Nations, this dog of an argument won't bark. I urge all
stakeholders to come to Tunis ready to bridge the digital divide and
ready to build an open, inclusive information society that enriches
and empowers all people.

The writer is secretary general of the United Nations.

Weblog at: <>

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