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France Wants IGF Replaced by World Internet Council

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Stéphane Van Gelder

Last week, the French Senate unveiled a proposal which, if enacted, would bring sweeping changes to the Internet Governance landscape.

A Senate working group worked on the proposal for 6 months. Although it is not only focussed on IG, the report can be seen as a further indictment of ICANN, following French Secretary for the Digital Economy Axelle Lemaire's claim that the organisation is no longer the right place to discuss IG.

Tasked with clarifying the role Europe should have in IG, the working group wants to see the IGF morphed into a "World Governance Council" which would have independent funding and be tasked with overseeing ICANN.

The working group also suggests that ICANN itself be evolved into "WICANN" for World ICANN. This new organisation would no longer be US-based but instead, headquartered in Switzerland. It would oversee the Internet root as a truly international body, and it's Board and books would need approval from the World Governance Council.

Although these proposals will appear far-fetched to many in the ICANN ecosystem, the mere fact that the government of a country like France is seriously working on these issues should give cause for concern to those who fear government-led initiatives to control the Internet.

It should also serve as a warning to ICANN that its current situation is fast becoming untenable. With ICANN's own community calling for more Board accountability, no-one should be surprised to see governments doing the same.

By Stéphane Van Gelder, Consultant. More blog posts from Stéphane Van Gelder can also be read here.

Related topics: ICANN, Internet Governance

 
   

Comments

march of folly Paul Vixie  –  Jul 17, 2014 8:03 AM PDT

with respect to the french assessment of icann's utility, or my assessment of the likely utility of a World ICANN (WICANN) overseen by a World Governance Council, i have a book recommendation: The March of Folly, by Barbara Tuchman.

Petty national politics Elliot Noss  –  Jul 22, 2014 9:26 AM PDT

Although these proposals will appear far-fetched to many in the ICANN ecosystem, the mere fact that the government of a country like France is seriously working on these issues should give cause for concern to those who fear government-led initiatives to control the Internet.

This really shows the extent to which governments will prioritize their own national interests to anything else, in this case the good of the Internet. Despite it "being worked on for 6 months", this is clearly a result of the .vin/.wine dispute. Ugh.

What's the solution? Stéphane Van Gelder  –  Jul 22, 2014 4:01 PM PDT

I agree that national interests will appear selfish when measured against the "good of the Internet". To me, the real question is what can be done to make governments feel they are part of the multi-stakeholder solution to governing the Net, not a victim of it. Finding the answer to that question would probably take a lot of pressure off the MS model as currently embodied by ICANN. But I have to admit that I have no idea what the answer might be…

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