It would seem that the amount of legitimate control of the internet is like that of possession in the eyes of the law-- nine tenths, and certainly at least that much in the eyes of practical reality.
Many have subscribed to the belief that because of the internet's global reach and influence it should have some type of international oversight and to some extent this has already been achieved - ICANN possesses board members of varying international citizenships. But others wish more global technical oversight that would include geographical relocation to anywhere but inside the U.S. Many nations such as China, Brazil, Iran and others fear sinister American influence, which has so far been unsuccessful in preventing the infection of many nations with the much feared disease of open and free information interchange. These nations' fears, given the present orgy of global intercourse, now rivals that of the WHO's relative to AIDS. Both are justified, the latter for obvious reasons, and the former remembers the power of the Fax machine in allowing Boris Yeltsin's success due to keeping many abreast of quickly changing events.
CDK has correctly pointed to the fact that such countries, with less desire for spreading correct information and more for domestic control of information dissemination through the internet, already possess such powers. Further, the dreaded fear of these countries spreading disinformation can presently (and may very well) be realized no matter who controls the internet.
I have done some reading on this subject, almost all centered on the WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) which was originally conceived to improve the lot of developing and less fortunate nations in regards to communication and information technology. This current meeting in Tunis has now become side tracked by this issue and by those who wish to expose Tunisia's human rights and press stifling actions complete with hunger strikes. Thanks to CDK's technical clarification and those articles examined it seems this issue is much ado about, well, very little.
Those on the U.S. side see little need for political committee-like decisions about technical aspects of internet administrations and the need that these must be carried out some where other then inside the U.S. Those for more multilateral control argue that this is needed simply because the U.S. cannot be trusted and its power must be diluted by institutions such as the UN.
Way back I asked CDK:
"But, in the interest of education and given international input into the administration of the internet, what would be "real reasons to give up (its) control"?"
Along with his explanation he rightly countered with his own question:
" Do you have an example of a scenario in which it would cause the harm you are concerned about?"
In other words what would be so bad about the U.S. loosening its control?
This prompted my research and the answer was: nothing really.
But, given a technical definition of what ICANN does, I found neither a compelling reason for America to continue its total control of ICANN nor for further UN, or other talk shops, participation therein. Thus timberlandko's "Dunno how much excitement is warranted." Timber's observation that the internet has taken on a life of its own is well taken but we should remember that this evolutionary hopeful monster, begat of both technology and human culture, had its origins in the U.S. So, in the future, if we revisit this issue we might ask why nations such as China and Iran seem poor incubators for such institutions as the internet and why they seek to fix an internet that is far from being broken.
Good post JM, much appreciated.
I have read (though no expert on this) that the work of Tim Berners-Lee in Switzerland allowed the international expansion of the Internet and he was insistent that this be not commerialised and controlled so as to allow for free growth.
The results of this are there for all to see and I think it a wonderful phenomenon.
The point therefore "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" seems particularly apt here.
McTag, yes given your info on Tim Berners-Lee and the ineternet's creation in the U.S., the spirit involved was that of creating a system that was openly available to all who, in addition to access could also add their own contributions and thereby add to the body of knowledge.
I believe it was iniated by college faculty working with DARPA grants. Because of its military origins, some secrecy was initially involved but academics recognized its value in regards to science and free speach and started their own for inter-university use.