The first stop for your search for some information and the great success stories of our time, the Internet, may soon be in for a major change.
The main objective of the United Nations conference World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to be held this month in
On actual Internet-related issues, there's frustration that the countries that got online first - the
and United States Western Europe, chiefly - gobbled up most of the available addresses required for computers to connect, leaving developing nations with a limited supply to share. (More in Chronicle) Houston
At issue is control of the web’s “root” servers, which store index information and directories of the entire internet and are maintained by the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), established by the United States in 1998 to take over activities that had been performed for 30 years by professor Jon Postel in California.
At the WSIS summit, countries such as
Other countries fear the
(through ICANN) can deny and thwart access to the Internet if it so desires. So far that hasn't happened but it doesn't mean it never will, say some diplomats. They want either the UN or an intergovernmental body to have supervisory power and make public policy related to the Internet. (More in Outlook) US
The struggle is over an information superstructure that is already the main conduit of world commerce. It is also about free speech and information control. The worst-case scenario is that the
….the alternative would be nothing short of net anarchy, a Balkanized virtual world with multiple and incompatible Internets. The losers will be the people who have come to enjoy the endless possibilities of a world at their keyboards. (More in Outlook)
Some common sense would prevent such an outcome. Some countries want the
A proliferation of the Internet sphere has helped the Asian nations to establish their own Internet exchanges as well as clone (root) servers that replicate the work of the ICANN's servers. A few developing countries also realized that it made ideological sense to have their own servers. Apart from the 13 root servers in the US, there are over 100 clone or mirror servers in other countries... …However, the US-based root servers still control most of the traffic, owning the power to block the mirror or clone servers anywhere in the world. (More in Outlook)
…..ICANN could be retooled to meet the demands of "many governments" to be allowed to take part in policy making and supervision, by allowing "equal participation" on its board and establishing clear, transparent and predictable rules and procedures. (More In eWeek)