EU calls for US to loosen grip on Internet governance body

June 19, 2009
EU Information, Society and Media commissioner Viviane Reding
EU Information, Society and Media commissioner Viviane Reding is pictured in May 2009. The European Commission on Thursday called for the ICANN Internet body to open up to greater number of countries, loosening the United State's grip over the private group.

The European Commission on Thursday called for the ICANN Internet body to open up to greater number of countries, loosening the United State's grip over the private group.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) currently operates under an agreement with the US Department of Commerce, which expires on 30 September.

ICANN, a non-profit organization based in Marina del Rey in Southern California, oversees the assignment of domain names -- such as .org or .edu -- and Internet protocol addresses that help computers communicate.

The European Commission said that when ICANN's agreement with Washington expired, it should become more "universally accountable."

"In the view of the , future internet governance arrangements should reflect the key role that the global network has come to play for all countries," it said in a statement.

According to the commission, there are currently 1.5 billion Internet users worldwide, 300 million of which are in the European Union's 27 member states.

"Will it become a fully independent organisation, accountable to the global community? Europeans would expect so, and this is what we will push for," said EU Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding.

"I call on the United States to work together with the European Union to achieve this."

The current agreement dates back to the group's inception in 1998 and gives the US government oversight over the body.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Briefs: ICANN Internet conference opens in N.Z.

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