4 October 2005

We hold these domain names to be self-evident...

Rally for less U.S.-centric Internet gains momentum
The politicization of Internet control has intensified as the European Union made clear at the latest meeting on the one hand of its backing of the ITU and the United Nations, as it argued that other governments and international agencies must work together with ICANN when it comes to assigning domain names.

In part given the fact that the head of the ITU is a Japanese national, the Japanese government too has made clear its support for the U.N.-led initiative, thereby siding its support for the EU proposal. Given that Japan is the world's second-largest Internet user following the United States and the EU and Japan combined make up a significant part of global Web use, their joint opposition to continued U.S. dominance could well be the single-biggest source of friction at the upcoming Tunis conference. At the same time, while there are 13 principal routing servers that ICANN is connected to worldwide, only three are based in Japan and Europe, while the remaining 10 are located across the United States alone.

The Japanese media has pointed out that the existing domain-naming system has reached its limit, especially as many point out the need to come up with new names such as .asia to meet the ever-changing needs of Internet users worldwide without having to resort to the United States as the final arbiter of whether or not such names are appropriate.

In addition, the financial daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun pointed out that a U.S.-led Internet naming system inevitably becomes focused on the English language, whereas much of the growth seen in the World Wide Web these days comes from non-English-speaking developing countries. Certainly, objection to the dominance of the English language on the Web, particularly in assigning domain names, is a common complaint from both developing and industrialized countries alike where English is not the native tongue.

For its part, the United States has made clear its opposition to changing ICANN's role in naming domains as it continues to argue that now is not the time to change the system as it could lead to confusion while arguing that the United Nations would simply not be able to handle the responsibility.

Meanwhile, the ITU's Utsumi stressed the need to reach a consensus at the upcoming conference, stating that 'if we wish to build a just and equitable information society, this summit cannot be allowed to fail.'

Australia's going to find itself in a cleft stick between a rock and a hard place. !. The Howard government has always argued they should control the .au domain. 2. Their foreign policy has consisted of a string of quick emails to the White House asking for instructions. Logically they should support internationalising the Internet, and that is what various Asian governments will expect us to do. On the other hand that may not be what the White House email says. The weird bit is the confusion between the top level domain, .com and the like, and the country level domain .us. You'd expect US companies to want to badge themselves by using the .us subdomain instead of the generic top level domain. It just hasn't happened.

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