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Rod Beckstrom, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) says all Internet stakeholders must strive to keep Internet governance out of the hands of intergovernmental organisations.

Beckstrom told an Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, this week that if governments got their hands on the Internet, "Most Internet users - businesses, service providers, non-profits and consumers - would be shut out of the governance debate."

The future of the Internet Governance Forum is set to be decided at a UN General Assembly meeting in December this year.

Delivering the opening address to the meeting Beckstrom said: "The fact that the Internet works is the ultimate tribute to the multi-stakeholder governance model. Governments could not do it alone."

And he warned: "Make no mistake: if we do not address this now - effectively together - the multi-stakeholder model that [has] enabled so many successes will slip from our grasp'¦If governance were to become the exclusive province of nation sates or captured by any other interests, we would lose the foundation of the Internet's long-term potential and transformative value."

According to Beckstrom, "The IGF is an important public forum where all interested parties come together equally to address these issues for the common good. Its greatest values are its egalitarian philosophy and its inclusiveness: the doors here are open.

"The IGF derives its strength and legitimacy from its multi-stakeholder composition. Bringing it into a traditional intergovernmental framework would undermine what the UN itself has been pursuing in recent years: public, private and community partnerships."

In a posting on the web site of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) Wolfgang Kleinwächter, special adviser to the chair of the IGF, said: "The IGF was established by the 2nd UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis 2005. Now the UN General Assembly has to decide about a continuation of the IGF. The evaluation of the four IGF [meetings] (2006 in Athens, 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, 2008 in Hyderabad and 2009 in Sharm el Sheik) started already last year among all involved stakeholders: governments, private sector civil society and the technical community.

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Stuart Corner

 

Tracking the telecoms industry since 1989, Stuart has been awarded Journalist Of The Year by the Australian Telecommunications Users Group (twice) and by the Service Providers Action Network. In 2010 he received the 'Kester' lifetime achievement award in the Consensus IT Writers Awards and was made a Lifetime Member of the Telecommunications Society of Australia. He was born in the UK, came to Australia in 1980 and has been here ever since.

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