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Future of the net to be decided tomorrow

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The future of the internet and the US government's role within it will be debated at a public meeting tomorrow in Washington DC.

Starting at 1.30pm local time, officials from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will discuss "issues associated with the continuation of the transition of the technical coordination and management of the internet domain name and addressing system (internet DNS) to the private sector".

What that means is that NTIA will debate what changes should be made to the contract the US government has with internet overseeing organisation ICANN when the existing contract ends on 30 September.

The public meeting follows a consultation exercise last month which saw 632 emailed comments outlingin ideas and reservations about the current state of internet governance.

The agenda for the meeting has been posted and will also be webcast.

Department of Commerce assistant secretary John Kneuer, the US government's man in charge, will be speaking and will also chair one of the two discussions. ICANN CEO Paul Twomey is also scheduled to speak. DoC senior adviser Meredith Attwell Baker will be chairing the other discussion.

The NTIA hopes to keep a tight rein on discussions, and in particular steer clear of the growing calls for the US government itself to transition its role to an international body as soon as possible.

ICANN carried out its own consultation exercise for the meeting on Friday where it lined up a series of speakers to give their opinion on what changes ICANN needs to make for the future.

The most controversial aspect in that consultation was the fact ICANN remains a US company and so exists within the highly litigious American system. There was also some discussion about ICANN's failure to include everyday internet users in its decision-making processes.

There will two periods of 15 minutes for public questions at the end of two sessions, but otherwise speakers have been chosen by the NTIA, and Twomey and Kneuer will be given 10 minutes without questions to end the meeting. ®

Related links

Meeting agenda
Webcast link [RealPlayer]

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