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EU urges US to drop ICANN

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Obama should hand over control of ICANN so it can be overseen by an independent international tribunal, EU Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding said today.

In her weekly address, Reding said the change of administration in Washington, DC offered renewed hope of a privatized ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the non-profit group that oversees the internet's address system, which is currently operating under the auspices of the US Department of Commerce.

"I believe that the US, so far, has done this in a reasonable manner," she said. "However, I also believe that the Clinton administration's decision to progressively privatize the internet's domain name and addressing system is the right one. In the long run, it is not defendable that the government department of only one country has oversight of an internet function which is used by hundreds of millions of people in countries all over the world."

Reding urged US President Obama to agree to a "more accountable, more transparent, more democratic and more multilateral form of internet governance" when the current agreement between ICANN and the US government expires on 30 September this year.

Among her proposals for a fully privatized ICANN is for the organization to be overseen by an independent international forum, as well as a "G-12 for internet governance" that would meet twice a year to make recommendations to ICANN.

Reding also said all people, companies, bodies, and organizations affected by ICANN decisions should have the right to request full judicial review of ICANN decisions by a small, independent international tribunal.

"The courts of California alone are certainly not the best placed to handle legal challenges originating in all continents of the world," she said.

The European Commission will hold a public hearing on Wednesday in Brussels to debate Internet governance.

A video of Reding's ICANN message can be viewed here, along with a transcript of the speech. ®

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