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December 10, 2012

Russia led coalition withdraws proposal to have greater control over internet

The move could enable governments to provide websites within their borders inaccessible

By CBR Staff Writer

A proposal by Russia-led coalition of countries has been withdrawn which could have given governments sweeping power to control Internet after the proposal was opposed by Western countries.

Russia, along with co-nations drafted a proposal, at the ongoing World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai, seeking formal extension of concern of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to govern many aspects of the Internet.

The proposal was signed by the countries including China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the modifications outlined in the document would shift many duties associated to the IP address and domain name allocation.

The power of allotting IP address and domain names would instead be handed over to the individual governments.

The proposal reads: "Member states have the right to manage all naming, numbering, addressing and identification resources used for international telecommunications/ICT services within their territories." reads the proposal.

However, on the other hand, the US, Europe and other allies that include Australia and Japan insist the treaty should only be applied to traditional telecommunications including international wireline and wireless calls.

The Internet Society, vice president Markus Kummer said told Reuters that if there is no agreement it will create political tension around the Internet.

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"Much of the Internet was developed from U.S. research funding, and the U.S. has kept a residual role, so many other governments say it’s not right that one government ‘controls’ the Internet," Kummer said.

"The irony is the U.S. has a very laid-back role and protects the Internet from political interference, but the fact it’s the U.S. makes it highly political."

The move could have enabled governments to make websites within their borders inaccessible, even through proxy servers and destabilise ICANN, the self-governing body under contract to the US Department of Commerce which allocates web addresses.

ICANN chief executive Rod Beckstrom said that the reason some countries want to create national control over addresses is so they can have another point of control.

"Decentralizing the process could prove chaotic if many countries demand that companies use only their national system, Beckstrom said.

"Internet networks don’t follow national borders and a lot of governments are not happy with that notion, that they don’t have control over their territory," Kummer said.

"Some governments feel threatened, which they see as undermining their national sovereignty."

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