The European decision to back the rest of the world in demanding the creation of a new international body to govern the Internet caught the
But Ambassador David Gross, the
Pundits and political analysts say that the stalemate over who should serve as the principal traffic cops for Internet routing and addressing could derail the summit. Thus far, Internet governance has been in
One proposal under discussion would wrest control of domain names from the U.S.-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN,) and give it to an intergovernmental group, possibly under the UN. Gross insists that the best thing about the Internet is that it’s "private-sector led." He described that as a non-negotiable "matter of national policy."
ICANN controls the Internet’s master directories, which tell Web browsers and e-mail programs how to direct traffic. Policy decisions could, at a stroke, make all Web sites ending in a specific suffix essentially unreachable. Although the computers themselves –
13 in all, known as "root" servers – are in private hands, they contain government-approved lists of the 260 or so Internet suffixes, such as ".com."
In 1998, the U.S. Commerce Department selected ICANN, a private organization with international board members, to decide what goes on those lists. The Commerce Department kept veto power, but indicated it would let go once ICANN met a number of conditions. Earlier this year, the