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Friday, July 15, 2005

Internet Governance Models

The U.S .recently indicated that they no longer intend to transfer control over the root servers to ICANN, but rather to maintain their “historic role in authorizing changes to the authoritative root zone file.” The U.S. did, however, open the door to discussion on country-code domains, by acknowledging governments’ “legitimate interest” in their national domains. The U.S. statement created a high stakes stand-off with the future of the Internet’s domain name system hanging in the balance. One possible outcome is that national governments negotiate with the U.S. for control of their national domains. That might lead to a “carving out” of country-code domains from the ICANN mandate, while maintaining the status quo for other Internet governance matters.

The international side has set out a new vision for Internet governance with the release of a proposal developed by the WSIS’sWorking Group on Internet Governance. The four models for internet governance proposed are:

Model 1: This model envisages a Global Internet Council (GIC), consisting of members from Governments with appropriate representation from each region and with involvement of other stakeholders. This council would take over the functions relating to international Internet governance currently performed by the Department of Commerce of the United States Government. It would also replace the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).

Model 2 : There is no need for a specific oversight organization. It may be necessary to enhance the role of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) in order to meet the concerns of some Governments on specific issues.

Model 3 : For policy issues involving national interests, given that no single Government should have a pre-eminent role in relation to international Internet governance, an International Internet Council (IIC) could fulfil the corresponding functions, especially in relation to ICANN/IANA competencies.

Model 4 :
This model brings together and addresses three interrelated areas of Internet policy governance, oversight and global coordination, and proposes structures to address the following challenges:
• Public policy development and decision-making on international Internet-related public policy issues led by Governments.
• Oversight over the body responsible at the global level for the technical and operational functioning of the Internet led by the private sector.
• Global coordination of the development of the Internet through dialogue between Governments, the private sector and civil society on an equal footing.
• The second function is advisory, as currently played by the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).
• Participation of Governments and civil society in an observer/advisory capacity.

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