ICANN chief wants talks on keeping Internet controls decentralised

The head of the private agency that acts as gatekeeper for the Internet, Mr Fadi Chehade (above), called on Tuesday for international discussions to ensure control of the web remains decentralised. -- PHOTO: ICANN
The head of the private agency that acts as gatekeeper for the Internet, Mr Fadi Chehade (above), called on Tuesday for international discussions to ensure control of the web remains decentralised. -- PHOTO: ICANN

GENEVA (AFP) - The head of the private agency that acts as gatekeeper for the Internet called on Tuesday for international discussions to ensure control of the Web remains decentralised.

Mr Fadi Chehade, president and chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), called for the "preservation of a decentralised, transnational and not too fragmented governance" of the Internet.

He told a Geneva conference that the Internet should remain "polycentric" but that the private and public sectors should work together.

"Only initiatives involving the private sector and governments can successfully and effectively address crucial issues like cybercrime, taxation of e-commerce, and child protection," Mr Chehade said.

ICANN, which is in charge of assigning domain names, is likely to break free of US oversight late next year.

Washington said in March it might not renew its contract with the Los Angeles-based agency, provided a new oversight system is in place that ensures the Internet addressing structure is reliable.

"ICANN is not and shall not be an island disconnected from other stakeholders," Mr Chehade said.

The agency plans to submit a proposal on oversight to the US Department of Commerce next year.

In an interview published Tuesday in Swiss daily Le Temps, Mr Chehade said the role of the United States - one of ICANN's 147 member countries - would remain important.

"If our DNA remains American, our openness to the world is a reality."

US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker pledged at a meeting of Internet leaders in October that the US would "protect and preserve a free, vibrant and open Internet".

Ms Pritzker said that while the United States might not renew its contract with ICANN, it still had a responsibility to encourage a decentralised Internet.

"The United States will not allow the global Internet to be co-opted by any person, entity, or nation seeking to substitute their parochial world view for the collective wisdom of this community," she said.