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Appeared on: Wednesday, November 16, 2005
US Retains Control of the Internet

In an eleventh-hour agreement ahead of a UN internet summit in Tunis, Tunisia, negotiators agreed to leave the US in charge of the net's addressing system.

Instead an international forum will be set up to discuss net issues, although it will not have any binding authority.

About 10,000 delegates, including world leaders, technology experts and campaigners, are expected at the three-day World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis.

Disagreements over control of the internet had threatened to overshadow the summit, with countries such as China and Iran pushing for a international body under UN auspices to oversee the net.

The US had stood firm against this, arguing that it would stifle technological advance and increase censorship of the internet by undemocratic regimes.

The Tunis deal leaves the day-to-day management of the net in the hands of the California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), which answers to the US government.

Icann will keep its current responsibilities for overseeing domain names and addressing systems, such as country domain suffixes, and managing how net browsers and e-mail programs direct traffic.

The 170 nations taking part in the negotiations agreed on the creation of an Intergovernmental Forum to discuss all internet issues, such as spam, viruses and cyber crime.

"We did not change anything on the role of the US government with regard to the technical aspects that we were very concerned about," said the top US negotiator David Gross after the agreement.

Mr Gross said the forum would not have oversight authority nor would it do "anything that will create any problems for the private sector", BBC reports.

Its first meeting is likely be held in Athens, Greece, early next year.

WSIS takes place in Tunis from 16 to 18 November.


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