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The Internet democracy

india Updated: Oct 04, 2006 20:03 IST
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All's well that ends well. 'One Internet' for all. That's what we have had so far. The entire world under one umbrella and hopefully that's what we will have in the future. In September 2006 the US government had taken a step back from control of the Internet with a new contract with overseeing organisation, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that came into effect 4 days ago.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the US Department of Commerce and ICANN, which runs from September 2009, will free the Internet administrator from file half-yearly reports to the US government agency and grant ICANN greater autonomy in forward planning.

EU hails move

The European Union has hailed the decision by the US government to back down and grant full autonomy by 2009 to the organisation that manages Internet domain names.

A wise move

In March earlier this year I had written an article titled A Few Parallel Internets. "One Internet" for all under US control simply wasn't working out for a lot of countries. A few nations as well as organisations were showing interest in building their own Internet.

In March People's Daily, regarded as the most influential newspaper in China, published an article announcing changes to the country's domain name system. China's moves to create its own domain system (a possible prelude to a new, country-specific, alternate root system). 

Not just China several Islamic nations and minority communities had an issue with the US control over the biggest information network in the world. One of the concerns was the cultural influence the world's biggest information network had on the people.

The current owner of the Internet

In theory, the Internet is owned by everyone that uses it. Yet, in reality, certain entities exert more influence over the "mechanics" and regulation of the Internet than others. There are organisations that oversee and standardise what happens on the Internet and assign IP addresses and domain names, such as the National Science Foundation, the Internet Engineering Task Force, ICANN, InterNIC and the Internet Architecture Board.

There are many organisations, corporations, governments, schools, private citizens and service providers that all own pieces of the infrastructure, but there is no single entity that owns it all. Yet organisations such as the National Science Foundation, the Internet Engineering Task Force, ICANN, InterNIC and the Internet Architecture Board are organisations created and largely controlled by US.

Democracy on the Internet

Undoubtedly today US is culturally and technologically a dominant power on the Internet. Noteworthy is also the fact that the Internet is a creation of the US. But the reality today is that the Internet is the global powerhouse of information in which many different nations, people from different nationalities have contributed.

The Internet ought to be made more democratic. "Global village" is a term often used. Now how about elections in the governing body of the global village? Democracy wins.

Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist at www.cyberzest.com and edits www.thebusinessedition.com you can write to him on puneet @cyberzest.com

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