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UK should have more control of the web, says IT entrepreneur

Warwick Ashford

The UK should take more control of the internet to counter the US stranglehold, says an IT entrepreneur.

“A British scientist invented the world wide web, so why are we now made to feel lucky to be involved?” said Scott Fletcher, chairman of IT services firm ANS Group.

Currently several non-profit US bodies oversee the internet’s technical specifications and domain name system.

Although they operate at arm’s length from the government, they officially come under the US Department of Commerce, said Fletcher.

Earlier this month, the US confirmed it will resist efforts by China, Russia and their allies to put the internet under the control of the United Nations.

The confirmation came in a statement issued by the US Department of State on US proposals to be submitted to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in December.

The WCIT, convened by the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU), will review and potentially revise the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) set in 1988.

As part of that review, some ITU members are seeking to establish for the first time ITU dominion over important functions of multi-stakeholder internet governance entities such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

"The US is concerned that proposals by some other governments could lead to greater regulatory burdens being placed on the international telecom sector, or perhaps even extended to the internet sector – a result the US would oppose," the US statement said.

The UK should have far greater control, either with or without the United Nations

Scott Fletcher, chairman, ANS Group

But Fletcher questions why the role of managing the internet should fall into the hands of the US. “The UK should have far greater control, either with or without the United Nations,” he said.

However, the US claims that giving the ITU greater control could result in broadening the scope of the ITRs to facilitate censorship of web content that will block the free flow of information and ideas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin supports the idea of giving the ITU greater control over the internet, and in 2011 said he was keen to discuss "establishing international control over the internet" using the monitoring and supervisory capabilities of the ITU.

Whistleblowing site WCITleaks.org has posted a leaked submission from Russia suggesting the ITU could become responsible for allocating at least some of the internet's addresses instead of Icann.

The US argues that existing multi-stakeholder institutions, incorporating industry and civil society, have functioned effectively and will continue to ensure the health and growth of the internet and all of its benefits.

The UK-based International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA) also believes that the multi-stakeholder approach should be preserved, said John Lyons, ICSPA CEO.

“It is important for the UK, US and their allies to invest in supporting cyber development and defence to instil the ideal of a free and fair internet,” he said.

 


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