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Ruling the Net

The U.S. hold on internet policy just got a little looser.

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This story appears in the April 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

This is turning into a game of "Whose Net Is It Anyway?" The battle for governance of the internet has been heated. Despite a lot of movement last year, not too much has actually been resolved. Here's the current situation: Some nations, including China and Cuba, believe the U.S. government has too much control over the management of the internet. The nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers plays a big role in this. It sets top-level domains and prices and handles dispute resolutions on behalf of the U.S. government. As expected, the U.S. isn't too keen on letting control be transferred to some international body.

A UN technology summit held in Tunisia late last year, dubbed the World Summit on the Information Society, turned into something of a showdown over the internet control issue. Some UN members proposed moving control to a yet-to-be-founded UN agency. Before any truly major fireworks could explode, a temporary deal was worked out: The issue is being handed over to the UN's new Internet Governance Forum, which will have its first meeting sometime in 2006. It opens up a new venue for discussion of internet control issues, but any proposals it might make will be nonbinding.

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