Countries meet to plot internet governance

Summary:Push to create an intergovernmental organisation charged with technical oversight of the internet.

A summit on internet governance is set to start in Brazil, aiming for a new global partnership after revelations on US online surveillance.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called the gathering last year amid anger worldwide stemming from the disclosures about US spying in documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

The two-day NETmundial gathering in Sao Paulo, which begins on Wednesday, includes representatives from countries across the world and comes after word from US officials that they plan to loosen their grip on the internet.

The recently revealed plan by Washington would set into motion a process for a "multi-stakeholder" model of internet governance.

"This meeting will focus on crafting internet governance principles and proposing a roadmap for the further evolution of the internet governance ecosystem," organisers said at a website devoted to the summit.

While Washington said it would no longer keep its supervisory role of internet website address overlords at the internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the next steps are unclear.

Some countries like China and Russia want oversight of the internet's technical functions to come under a group of governments or an intergovernmental organisation.

Kuek Yu-Chuang, ICANN vice-president and managing director for the Asia Pacific, said at a meeting last month that "there is widespread agreement" on the multi-stakeholder model.

But NETMundial chair Virgilio Almeida, a Brazilian government official, said he sees "some points of contention" at the gathering.

US online spy tactics exposed by former intelligence contractor Snowden are not on the official summit agenda but were expected to be hot topics.

Slated to join Rousseff in opening NETmundial are the head of ICANN as well as Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with creating the World Wide Web 25 years ago and a fierce advocate for internet freedom.

Any resolutions that come out of the summit will not be binding, but Brazilian Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo said he sees a need for measures to restore trust.

"After what happened with Snowden, there has been a change in the public perception of the internet and there is a need for change," he said.

The US on Tuesday confirmed that a delegation led by the White House cybersecurity co-ordinator Michael Daniel will take part in NETmundial.

"The US government looks forward to collaborating with hundreds of other stakeholders at NETmundial to develop a shared vision for the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance that seeks further evolution to an increasingly open, inclusive, and responsive system," the Department of State said in a release.

Topics: Government, Tech Industry

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