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The World Votes; U.N. and the Internet
Alex Steffen, 31 Mar 04

Live outside the US? Ever think that, given the sway of the American Empire, you too ought to have a vote in how we yanks choose our president? Well, you're apparently not alone - in fact, The World Votes is here to help you. Of course, your ballot won't count, but until we have an actual world federation with some meaningful power, it's probably the best we can do.

Speaking of world government, an editorial over at CNet argues against giving the UN authority over the Internet:

"It is true that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which currently oversees address space and domain names, has its problems. It has moved with the speed of a crippled, three-toed sloth in approving new top-level domains. It is a little too cozy with large trademark holders. It needs to be more completely weaned from the U.S. government.

"Developing nations have other legitimate gripes, too. China has been allocated about 45 million global Internet addresses, less than the combined total of Stanford University and IBM. That's hardly reasonable nowadays. But groups like the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) have been working hard on Internet Protocol version 6, the next-generation Internet protocol that will eliminate the shortage of addresses.

"It is hardly clear that the United Nations would do a better job, and there are plenty of reasons to believe that it wouldn't."

This is more of a legitimate debate than the author makes it out to be, with real questions about the governance future of a global common resource. That said, the U.N. is pretty dysfunctional and ineffective. We're still looking for models of planetary governance, Net-enabled or no.

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Ever this is a problem. I'm an American expat running amok on a keyboard in Trinidad and Tobago, and I can tell you that (1) ICANN isn't what should be running things, (2) The UN shouldn't either.

Neither is it for developed countries to pay for closing the Digital Divide...

It's unfortunate that the peoples of the world who stand to gain the most from the result of who controls the internet are probably not on it right now. That's a problem.

Posted by: Taran on 31 Mar 04

ICANN isn't 'running' things - they hand out names so /others/ can run them. It's called de-centralization. This may bother those that would rather have end-to-end centralization, but it's demonstrated itself as a very succesful way for things to work.

They only have a few top-level names and IPv4 addresses - if you think running short of addresses is a problem, then get it in gear and work on (or help out with) a technical solution to the technical problem. The UN should fund IPv6 distribution worldwide - if they take leadership /action/ then they will become de-facto leaders in running things.

Posted by: Mike on 3 Apr 04



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