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ICANN rules out ITU merger

Extending the mandate of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) could do irreparable harm to it and Internet governance in the future, says ICANN CEO Paul Twomey.

Speaking at a press conference at the end of the corporation's five-day meeting in Cape Town yesterday, Twomey reiterated previous statements that ICANN was only responsible for a small part of Internet governance.

Twomey also dismissed any chance of a merger between ICANN and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), as has been mooted by some involved in the overall debate about the role and control of the Internet.

“It must be understood that the ITU was created in the guise of classical telecommunications framework of agreements between governments. However, the Internet is built on the co-operation of about 200 000 computer networks,” he said.

ICANN chairman Vinton Cerf said at the same press conference that his corporation was only responsible for a small part of Internet governance.

“Issues such as electronic commerce, fraud and child pornography should be dealt with by bodies such as the United Nations and through government agreements,” he said.

A statement made earlier by the African Internet Providers Association (AfrISPA) supported these views.

“As AfrISPA we are concerned about issues related to cyber-crime, spam, child-pornography and hate-oriented content, and the high cost of bandwidth in developing countries. We believe these issues are a neglected area of Internet governance, and are the more urgent and focal areas of the WSIS [World Summit on Information Society], UN and ITU to address. These are cross-border problems that tend to span multiple jurisdictions,” said the AfrISPA statement.

This was the fourth ICANN meeting to be held in Africa and was attended by 735 delegates from 91 countries, including those from 25 African countries.

Among the various forums at the five-day conference was the “At-Large” Internet community meeting, which discussed the challenges facing the African community in the ICANN process. A WSIS workshop was held to help prepare delegates for the Tunis round in November 2005.

The ICANN board resolved to issue the final .net request for proposals from organisations bidding to administer the .net top-level domain. The contract with current administrator Verisign expires in July 2005.

Also announced during the meeting was that a new top-level domain name “.travel” would probably come into effect in January. It will cater for travel and tourism industry organisations around the world.

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