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The US government is asking for comments on how the internet should be run, and anyone is allowed to comment - but you'll need to be quick.

The NTIA - an arm of the US government's department of commerce - is holding a public meeting at the end of July over what should happen to the current Internet overseeing organisation ICANN when its contract is renewed in September. In the meantime, it has opened a public comment board where you are able to email comments for the US government and the rest of the world to see. The board is open now but comments need to be sent by this Friday, 7 July. The email postal address is DNSTransition@ntia.doc.gov.

It is the first time that the public has been able to directly contribute to the debate surrounding governance of the internet, and it has already seen dozens of people email their ideas and views. The question of how the internet should be run has recently gained wide international interest following public arguments over the US government's current position as overall authority. The subject is also likely to become all the more important in the next few years as the internet expands to incorporate different languages and different countries more fully.

This situation has already seen a flood of emails from people asking for the US government to reconsider its role and allow a sharing of power between governments at the very top of the net to prevent any undue influence from creeping into the system. Numerous statements are also expected in the next few days from internet organisations, including ICANN itself.

The "notice of inquiry" asks specific questions about how ICANN functions - and should function - and poses wide-ranging questions about what could be done in the future. There is some concern that since ICANN remains a relatively unknown organisation this will put people off making their views known, so the At-Large Advisory Committee, which represents the views of ordinary internet users within ICANN, has set up its own query process to elicit suggestions from the wider public.

If you want to know more, you can read about it on the NTIA website, or you can visit the people's representative ALAC at its home pages: www.icannalac.org. Now's your chance to have you're voice heard, so get typing. ®

Send your views

Post to ALAC
Email the NTIA direct

Related links

NTIA's Notice of Inquiry
Published comments on NTIA's website

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