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UN panel on Internet governance opens third meeting

UN panel on Internet governance opens third meeting

Issues relating to spam, network security and cyber crime, as well as the roles and responsibilities of all actors involved in Internet governance, and measuring the adequacy of existing arrangements are on the agenda of the third meeting of the United Nations-backed panel meeting in Geneva to examine Internet-related issues.

Continuing its preparations for the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) later this year in Tunis, Tunisia, the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) opened its meeting today to look into areas where improvements are needed in current regulatory arrangements.

The 40-member Working Group was established at the request of delegations at the Summit's first phase in December 2003 in Geneva, who asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to set up an open and inclusive consultation process on Internet governance that ensures a mechanism for full and active participation of governments, the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed countries, to investigate and make proposals for action.

Other items on the agenda of the two-day meeting include issues relating to infrastructure and the management of critical Internet resources, including administration of the domain name system and Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, as well as issues which are relevant to the Internet but have a much wider impact, such as competition policy, liberalization, privatization and regulations, and intellectual property rights and dispute resolution.

The panel is also expected to tackle several subjects relating to development aspects of Internet governance, in particular capacity-building in developing countries, gender issues and access. Such issues include affordable and universal access, Internet-leased line costs, national infrastructure development, cultural and linguistic diversity, content accessibility, and open-source and free software.

The Working Group, which is not a negotiating body, has started examining the extent to which these matters are being handled in accordance with the Declaration of Principles adopted by UN Member States at the 2003 Summit meeting. It is expected to submit its final report to the Secretary-General in July, to be considered at WSIS in November.