Craig Hodges, Telecom Ambassador
Friday, May 2, 2014
For over a century international telephone communications has been regulated by the International Telecommunications Union, (ITU), which today is an agency within the United Nations. Currently, there is no international body that regulates the Internet.
Most people know that the Internet had its beginnings in the United States. Many don’t know that the United States still maintains sole authority over web address and the domain names that organize the world’s Internet through an organization called ICANN. (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) Before ICANN’s founding in 1998 an individual named Jon Postel, working for University of Southern California, administered and distributed the domains and IP addresses.
Today, ICANN functions with the cooperation of the US Commerce Department, assigning Internet domain names and addresses for websites throughout the world. Currently, there is talk of relinquishing ICANN’s responsibilities to the ITU, or an ITU type entity. There are many risks associated with such a move. The incentive to invest and improve services and facilities might be reduced. Access costs could be increased. Next, the Internet fosters openness of ideas and innovation. A more devastating effect could be stopping the free flow of ideas to countries represented by an oppressive government. Internet censorship already occurs in many countries and a move to the ITU could result in giving oppressive governments more power to further restrict communications. Most importantly, how will having the ITU oversee the Internet affect the United States?
ICANN is encouraging private sector entities, including businesses and trademark owners, to offer ideas, comments and suggestions relating to this transition through its website http://www.icann.org. Feedback can be offered through May 8th.
Craig Hodges, The Telecom Ambassador
BSB Communications Inc.