The United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) meets next week in Tunisia, and already has garnered a considerable amount of controversy over reports the body wants to take over control of the Internet.
The WSIS contends it wants to address the so-called digital divide. In an op-ed piece originally run in the Washington Post, Secretary General Kofi Annan says the UN does not want to take over the Web; rather, it wants to ensure the Internet’s global reach, Annan writes.
The main objective of the World Summit on the Information Society to be held this month in Tunisia is to ensure that poor countries get the full benefits that new information and communication technologies including the Internet can bring to economic and social development, he notes.
The Internet is run by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a nongovernmental organization in California that manages the domain-registration system. European leaders have withdrawn support for the system, saying they want other countries to oversee it.
Everyone acknowledges the need for more international participation in discussions of Internet governance, Annan says in the op-ed. The disagreement is over how to achieve it. So let’s set aside fears of U.N. designs on the Internet. Much as some would like to open up another front of attack on the United Nations, this dog of an argument won’t bark. I urge all stakeholders to come to Tunis ready to bridge the digital divide and ready to build an open, inclusive information society that enriches and empowers all people.