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European Commission declares itself an “Honest broker in future global negotiations on Internet Governance”

The Standards Blog - Andy Updegrove - For more than a decade there has been active resistance in some quarters to the continuing custody by the U.S. of the root domain registries of the Internet. Those directories (which control the routing of Internet traffic into and out of nations) are administered by ICANN, which in turn exists under the authority of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Today, Neelie Kroes, the strong-willed European Commission Vice-President in charge of the E.C.’s Digital Agenda, has put the question of “Internet Governance” (read: control of these registries) back into the news. Specifically, Kroes announced in a press release that the Commission will pursue a “role as honest broker in future global negotiations on Internet Governance.”

While the press refers to “reduced trust” in the Internet as a result of the disclosure of NSA surveillance activities, today’s announcement is in fact a continuation of an effort on the part of the EU nations (among others) that has simmered, and occasionally boiled over, for many years. It first reached a crescendo in 2005 in connection with the convening of a global, UN sponsored “World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).” Part of the outcome of that meeting was the creation of a Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), and in September of 2005, the EU (and UK) broke ranks with the U.S., coming out in support of a new global body to control what had by then come to be referred to as “Internet Governance.”