The UN's WSIS Prepcomm in Geneva has ended on a divided note. The US Government's Ambassador Gross pre-announced war-cry "The United Nations will not be in charge of the Internet. Period." had been met by a nearly unanimous global response from nations for some sort of government control of the Internet on a multilateral basis. A raft of proposals to alter the current situation are on the table — most of them fairly benign, but none supportive of the indefinite continuance of unilateral US control of the root zone authorisation.
To many of us living outside the US, US unilateral control of the root zone is unacceptable-period. (apologies to Ambassador Gross) . All the arguments advanced that change might somehow create a problem with Internet security and stability are not based on any rational assessment of what would happen if change in root zone authorization were to occur — rather on fear. The continued control by USA might have a rationale in commerce, but not in Internet stability.
So what if the US holds out in the face of a large body of international opinion? Will that create a secure and stable situation?
Clearly the answer is no. If security and stability is the concern, change has to occur to create such a situation. The Internet will be broken if no change occurs (see numerous previous articles on CircleID on this, including my "ICANN needs a good root” for background and a summation of the likelihood of multiple roots should the current stand off continue).
I am concerned by the continued attitude of "Internet insiders" that, after all, WSIS is a waste of our precious time, we have more important things to do, things are all fine and dandy as they are, and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
I say, if it's about to break, fix it. We are now beyond a situation in which a stable secure Internet will continue with US unilateral control. Like it or not, that won't happen. The more we try to wriggle away from governments, the more they will want to take control.
The "Internet community" and bodies such as ICANN as ISOC need to face reality here. There is no stability in the status quo. It's time to engage rather than oppose, to suggest rather than resist, and to create tomorrow's Internet rather than defend yesterday's one.
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