Rift averted on eve of internet summit

A potentially damaging rift over US control of the internet has been averted hours before a key summit in Tunis tries to spread the IT revolution to poor countries.

    The three-day internet summit is beginning on Wednesday

    The three-day World Summit on the Internet Society (WSIS) is due to open on Wednesday.

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who launched the information summit process for developing nations in 2001, is due to join some 50 government leaders and about 10,000 participants at the conference and trade fair.


    Late on Tuesday night, negotiators cleared one of the final hurdles in preliminary talks by agreeing on key clauses on internet governance for endorsement at the summit, diplomats said


    The three-year deadlock had revolved around Washington's determination to maintain single-handed oversight of the private body that manages the crucial technical and administrative roots of the global network.


    UN supervision


    Countries such as China and Iran had sought UN supervision of ICANN or the internet governance, while the EU had also sought to internationalise control but carry on with talks.


    Negotiators agreed to expand talks along two parallel tracks, one an open-ended process with a variety of public and private sector participants aiming for "enhanced cooperation" on public policy issues.


    Some 50 government leaders
    are to participate at the summit

    The other creates an Intergovernmental Forum (IGF) to discuss all internet issues, including problems such as spam, cyber crime or computer viruses.


    Officials said the controversial private non-profit Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was likely to subsist.


    "We did not change anything on the role of the US government with regard to the technical aspects that we were very concerned about," top US negotiator David Gross said after the agreement struck between 170 countries.


    The dispute had threatened to tear apart the internet, according to experts, and overshadow the summit's spotlight on the "digital divide" between rich and poor countries.


    The UN's International Telecommunication Union, which is organising the gathering, wants to connect all villages in the world to the internet by 2015.



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