By Andy Sullivan
Three lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives called on Friday
for the Internet's core infrastructure to remain under U.S. control,
essentially ICANN, echoing similar language introduced in the Senate
earlier this week.
The resolution, introduced by two Republicans and one Democrat, aims
to line up Congress firmly behind the Bush administration as it heads
for a showdown with much of the rest of the world over control of the
global computer network.
"Turning the Internet over to countries with problematic human-rights
records, muted free-speech laws, and questionable taxation practices
will prevent the Internet from remaining the thriving medium it has
become today," said California Republican Rep. John Doolittle in a
Doolittle introduced the resolution with Virginia Republican Rep. Bob
Goodlatte and Virginia Democratic Rep. Rick Boucher.
Countries including Brazil and Iran want an international body to
oversee the addressing system that guides traffic across the Internet,
which is currently overseen by a California nonprofit body -- ICANN --
that answers to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The European Union withdrew its support of the current system last
month, and the issue is expected to come to a head at a U.N. summit
meeting in Tunisia in November.
The Bush administration has made clear that it intends to maintain
If a settlement is not reached, Internet users in different parts of
the globe could potentially wind up at different Web sites when they
type an address into their browsers.
U.S. lawmakers have backed the Bush administration's stance, arguing
that a U.N. group would stifle innovation with excessive bureaucracy
and enable repressive regimes to curtail free expression online.
Top Republicans and Democrats on the House Commerce Committee sent a
letter of support to the Bush administration earlier this month. In
the Senate, Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman has introduced a
resolution supporting the administration's stance.
"The United States is uniquely positioned in the world to protect the
fundamental principles of free press and free speech, upon which the
Internet has thrived," Goodlatte said in a statement.
The United States has not always taken a hands-off approach to
Internet regulation. In August the Commerce Department asked the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the California
body that oversees domain names, to postpone action on a proposed .xxx
domain for sex sites.
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Things are looking sort of grim for the
countries which want to see a non-ICANN controlled, non-business dominated
internet. It would appear that Vint Cerf gets to retain control unless
some philanthropist(s) comes along to develop a new system of root
servers, and encourage webmasters to go along with them. PAT]