Praise for ICANN as the net becomes more global

EU commissioner says US is withdrawing from net control gracefully. UN official emphasizes net users will be diverse in color and device.

International diplomats often criticize ICANN for maintaining US dominance of the Internet but at the Internet Governance Forum in Athens, a top EU official praised America's pullback from its control of the Internet, AP reports.

"We are very satisfied with the work of ICANN. What Europe was objecting was the government oversight of ICANN," EU Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding told The Associated Press. "I think ICANN is doing a perfectly good job as it is. Just leave it alone."

Last year, the EU was at loggerheads with the US over control of the domain system and other key technologies. Europe and developing world nations wanted control to move to a consortium of world governments and the private sector. Last month, the Commerce Department said it would retain oversight of ICANN for another three years, although it agreed to be less actively engaged. Reding called that "the first step in the right direction."

"We do not need governments to have hands on ICANN. That's why we have discussed this for years with the Americans in order to leave ICANN free, to leave ICANN independent, without government oversight," she said. "We will monitor very closely what will happen in the next months and years and hope that ICANN can be independent."

The U.N.'s top Internet official, Nitin Desai, emphasized the importance of Asia for the net over the next five years and warned against overreating to the threats of cybercrime.

"Criminals travel on the road. Therefore let's have a rule which says no one should get on the road without first checking at the police station. Would you do that? Of course you wouldn't. ... The important thing is not to overreact."

He pointed out that the profile of the typical user will shift from Americans and Europeans using laptops and workstations to citizens of the third world, coming on with web-enabled phones and other mobile devices.

"Once you get that, the cost of access won't be more than the cost of using a mobile phone," he said. "India is talking in terms of half a billion people having mobile phones, in a matter of barely five years."

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