Don’t sidetrack ICANN is business plea

  • 10 July 2003

The International Chamber of Commerce is opposing imminent moves to create a new intergovernmental organization to manage the Internet domain name system.

ICC’s top e-business and IT expert, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, said companies engaged in e-commerce wanted to preserve the existing Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

“Without all stakeholders’ full and equal involvement in the technical coordination of the Internet, there is a real risk that the Internet will degrade and fail to reach its full potential as a global communications and business medium,” he said,

Mr Abu-Ghazaleh, who heads ICC’s Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecommunications, is Chairman of the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Group of leading Arab regional professional services firms. He was addressing a meeting of his commission, attended by executives from many of the world’s leading e-business users and service providers.

He made his comments ahead of a preparatory meeting in Paris next Tuesday for the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Government representatives will debate a draft text calling for a new intergovernmental organization to run the Internet. If approved, it will be submitted for adoption and signature by heads of state and government at the WSIS summit in Geneva in December.

ICANN is a private-sector led organization, the closest the Internet has come to an international coordinating body. Its task is to run the domain name system that provides Internet users with .com, .net and .org as well as country domain names such as .de for Germany and .uk for Britain.

ICC Secretary General Maria Livanos Cattaui warned in a letter to governments against proposals to replace ICANN with any intergovernmental organization to manage root servers, domain names and address assignments.

She said: “This runs directly contrary to the business view that private sector leadership of the Internet is working and is essential for its stability and continued development. ICC supports the ongoing evolution of ICANN and its related organizations. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

An ICC analysis of perceived flaws in the draft text prepared for the Paris meeting said it was misleading to use the term “Internet governance”. “The Internet is a set of global networks. It can be coordinated to ensure that it functions as a coherent system, but there is no system of governance that is applicable in the usual sense of the word.”

ICC further argued that ICANN’s structure provides for balanced representation from all stakeholders. ICANN was a private sector led organization that operated as a public/private partnership, ensuring that all stakeholders could participate in its global technical coordination. A Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) ensured that governments and international organizations could participate in ICANN, ICC pointed out.