Federal Internet Law & Policy
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Derived From: Derived From: Lennard Kruger, Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues, Congressional Research Service p 3 (Oct. 28, 2009):

Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet. [WGIG 2005 ¶ 10]

Because cyberspace and the Internet transcend national boundaries, and because the successful functioning of the DNS relies on participating entities worldwide, ICANN is by definition an international organization. Both the ICANN Board of Directors and the various constituency groups who influence and shape ICANN policy decisions are composed of members from all over the world. However, many in the international community, including foreign governments, have argued that it is inappropriate for the U.S. government to maintain its legacy authority and control over ICANN and the DNS, and have suggested that management of the DNS should be accountable to a higher intergovernmental body.

The United Nations (U.N.), at the December 2003 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), debated and agreed to study the issue of how to achieve greater international involvement in the governance of the Internet and the domain name system in particular. The study was conducted by the U.N.'s Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG). On July 14, 2005, the WGIG released its report, stating that no single government should have a preeminent role in relation to international Internet governance. The report called for further internationalization of Internet governance, and proposed the creation of a new global forum for Internet stakeholders. Four possible models were put forth, including two involving the creation of new Internet governance bodies linked to the U.N. Under three of the four models, ICANN would either be supplanted or made accountable to a higher intergovernmental body. The report's conclusions were scheduled to be considered during the second phase of the WSIS held in Tunis in November 2005. U.S. officials stated their opposition to transferring control and administration of the domain name system from ICANN to any international body. Similarly, the 109th Congress expressed its support for maintaining U.S. control over ICANN (H.Con.Res. 268 and S.Res. 323).14

The European Union (EU) initially supported the U.S. position. However, during September 2005 preparatory meetings, the EU seemingly shifted its support towards an approach which favored an enhanced international role in governing the Internet. Conflict at the WSIS Tunis Summit over control of the domain name system was averted by the announcement, on November 15, 2005, of an Internet governance agreement between the United States, the EU, and over 100 other nations. Under this agreement, ICANN and the United States remained in control of the domain name system. A new international group under the auspices of the U.N. was formed-the Internet Governance Forum-which provides an ongoing forum for all stakeholders (both governments and nongovernmental groups) to discuss and debate Internet policy issues. The Internet Governance Forum does not have binding authority. It is slated to run through 2010, at which point the U.N. will consider whether to continue the body.


  • World Information Society Report 2006, ITU 9/26/2006
  • WSIS Prepcom-3 Meeting Underway: Internet Governance Under Debate, ITU 9/19/2005
  • Root Servers, Anycast, DNSSEC, WGIG and WSIS, ITU 7/29/2005
  • Internet Governance Project: The Future US Role in Internet Governance, ITU 7/29/2005
  • Presentation of the WGIG Report, WGIG 7/19/2005
  • Report of WGIG June 2005
  • Experts meet at UN to examine Internet regulation, UN 3/26/2004
  • Papers


  • U.S. protests Net summit crackdown, CNET 11/18/2005
  • Technology Summit Wraps Up in Tunisia, Wash Post 11/18/2005
  • Congress: U.S. Internet Control Inviolable, Newsfactor 11/18/2005
  • Internet summit: great ideas but too little money, Newindpress 11/18/2005
  • Internet summit ends after little progress, MSNBC 11/18/2005
  • Controversy blights UN net summit, BBC 11/18/2005
  • UN vows to promote digital life in poor nations, People's Daily Online China 11/18/2005
  • Annan: Let internet help world's poor, Al Jazeera 11/18/2005
  • Five More Years! There Was No "Deal" and WSIS Resolved Nothing, CircleID 11/18/2005
  • Three Congressmen Unhappy With Internet Compromise, Networking Pipeline 11/18/2005
  • Tunisian Authorities, Secret Police Meddle with WSIS Session, IP Democracy 11/18/2005
  • EU says Internet plan gains support, MSNBC 11/15/2005
  • Tug of war over Net takes center stage, IHT 11/15/2005
  • World Wants More Say in Control of World Wide Web, Ecommerce Times 11/15/2005
  • No place to talk about Internet freedom, IHT 11/15/2005
  • 'Tunisia not fit to host world web summit', Silicon 11/15/2005
  • Groups decry Tunisia hosting UN summit, Business Week 11/15/2005
  • Tunisia under fire over UN summit, BBC 11/15/2005
  • Violent clashes at internet summit, CBR 11/15/2005
  • WSIS and the Splitting of the Root, CircleID 11/15/2005
  • Control the Internet? A Futile Pursuit, Some Say, NYT 11/15/2005
  • Internet Governance: Countdown to Tunis, CircleID 11/8/2005
  • Kofi Annan says UN won't "take over" the Internet, CNET 11/8/2005
  • Private Sector Perspectives on the World Summit on the Information Society, NTIA 11/8/2005
  • Internet Governance Squabble Expected To Hijack U.N. Meeting, Internet Week 11/1/2005
  • Countries challenge US control of Internet, China Daily 10/24/2005
  • Preserving the Web of the free, IHT 10/24/2005
  • The Net is anarchy: keep it that way, The Age, Australia 10/24/2005
  • Bush challenges EC over Internet governance, ZDNet 10/21/2005
  • Sen. Coleman's Effort to Stop a "U.N. for the Internet", PPF 10/21/2005
  • POD: Should U.S. relinquish control over Internet?, Future Tense 10/21/2005
  • Looming struggle over Internet control could put network's, Seattle Times 10/14/2005
  • The Beneficiaries of the Internet Break-Up, ECT 10/14/2005
  • The US has got an image problem when it comes to the internet, EygptElection 10/14/2005
  • Nations squabble over internet management, Register 10/11/2005
  • Net power struggle nears climax, BBC 10/11/2005
  • Internet users say debate over control misses point, IHT 10/5/2005
  • EU Wants Shared Control of Internet, Forbes 9/30/2005
  • U.S. Insists On Keeping Control Of Web, Information Week 9/30/2005
  • US rejects changes to net control, BBC 9/30/2005
  • WGIG report draws U.S. fire, ACM 8/5/2005
  • CDT Urges Cautious Response To Internet Governance Proposals, CDT 8/5/2005
  • A battle for the soul of the Internet, ZDNet 6/10/2005
  • UN at odds over internet's future, BBC 7/19/2005
  • UN Working Group Releases Internet Governance Report, CDT 7/19/2005
  • UN outlines future of US-less internet, Register 7/19/2005
  • Whose Internet?, Wash Post 7/19/2005
  • UN Global Forum on Internet Governance, CircleID 4/2/2004
  • U.N. ponders Net's future, CNET 3/26/2004
  • Who should govern the Net?, CNET 3/26/2004
  • U.N. finds Net governance tempting, CNET 3/26/2004
  • Who is in charge of Internet?, SABC News, South Africa 3/26/2004
  • AUDIO: Special report from the UN digital divide summit in Geneva, BBC 12/16/2003
  • U.N. confab to see tussle over Net control, CNET 12/5/2003
  • UN to take over the Internet?, Geeks 12/5/2003
  • US fights UN for control of the Net, The Star (Malaysia) 12/5/2003
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