Deal avoids global split over Net control

Tunis, Nov 16 | Updated: Nov 17 2005, 06:17am hrs
Negotiators avoided a potentially damaging split between the United States and the rest of the world over control of the internet, saying they had agreed to work towards enhanced international cooperation.

Diplomats said a working group reached an agreement on key clauses on internet governance for endorsement at the world summit on the internet society beginning in Tunis on Wednesday.

A three-year deadlock in preliminary talks until Tuesday night had revolved around Washingtons single-handed oversight of the private body that oversees the technical and administrative roots of the global network.

The agreement set up two parallel tracks of talks, one an open-ended process towards enhanced cooperation by relevant international organisations on public policy issues, to be triggered by United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan early next year, according to the final draft.

The other creates an intergovernmental forum (IGF) to hold talks on all internet issues, including problems such as as spam, cyber crime or computer viruses. Officials said private non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) was likely to exist even with its tender due for renewal by the US government next summer, since nothing in the final draft ruled it out.

We did not change anything on the role of the US government with regard to the technical aspects that we were very concerned about, top US negotiator David Gross said after the agreement struck between 170 countries.