The United Nations should not be allowed to ‘take over the Internet’, European MPs have urged.
Currently the Internet is controlled by a range of groups, many based in the United States. They include Icann, which is a nonprofit group in California that maintains the web address system on behalf of the US government.
Nations will attend a conference in Dubai next month to review the current structure of online services, and to secure “the free flow of information around the world, promoting affordable and equitable access for all”.
But according to recent reports, mostly in the Russian press, there is now a move by some countries to switch control to a UN agency.
In a document leaked online, Russian officials said:
“Member states shall have equal rights to manage the internet, including in regard to the allotment, assignment and reclamation of internet numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources and to support for the operation and development of basic internet infrastructure,”
Russia and other countries are reportedly worried that some element of control over a vital communications network is in the ‘hands’ of one nation.
Ahead of the meeting in Dubai, MPs in the European Parliament have insisted the UN’s International Telecommunications Union is not the right body to take control of the net.
MPs voted in favour of a resolution which said the move would “negatively impact the internet, its architecture, operations, content and security, business relations, internet governance and the free flow of information online”.
Google has also expressed its worries about the change, arguing that not all governments support a “free and open internet”, and that they should not be given more control.
“Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech — or even allow them to cut off Internet access,” said Google.
“Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information — particularly in emerging markets.”