The European Commission put forward fresh measures today to share the management and operations of Internet infrastructure among the international community, making it more open, accountable and secure.
Among its proposals, the Commission is asking for the responsibilities bestowed upon the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a nonprofit based in the United States, to be distributed globally. It would include the duties of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a department of ICANN which allocates IP addresses and manages root nameservers for the DNS.
The Commission also wants to bolster the Internet Governance Forum, a body for governments and industry stakeholders to discuss and debate policy, and review any outstanding conflicts in national law related to the accountability and management of current Internet infrastructure.
Neelie Kroes, Vice-President for the European Commission, said these actions were “critical” for “redrawing” how the Internet is managed and governed on a global scale. “Europe must contribute to a credible way forward for global internet governance,” she said. “Europe must play a strong role in defining what the net of the future looks like.”
The Commission says its in support of a “real multi-stakeholder governance model” that would involve multiple parties, including individuals and organizations, taking on these responsibilities.
In a press release, the commission referenced the US government’s widespread surveillance techniques, unearthed last year by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. While the relationship between these revelations and ICANN’s powers were not addressed, Kroes suggested that governments shouldn’t control the new model.
“I agree that governments have a crucial role to play, but top-down approaches are not the right answer,” she said. “We must strengthen the multi-stakeholder model to preserve the Internet as a fast engine for innovation.”
Specifically, she mentioned the International Telecommunications Union – a UN agency that was criticised by the European Parliament in November 2012 when it was suggested it should take on powers currently held by US bodies.
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