UN Internet governance panel focuses on spam, Web use

20 April 2005

The United Nations-backed panel meeting in Geneva to examine Internet-related issues wrapped up its third session today having made headway on measuring the adequacy of existing Web governance arrangements, and discussing key public policy issues, such as spam, network security and cyber-crime.

The United Nations-backed panel meeting in Geneva to examine Internet-related issues wrapped up its third session today having made headway on measuring the adequacy of existing Web governance arrangements, and discussing key public policy issues, such as spam, network security and cyber-crime.

The Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), which opened on Monday, started looking at possible recommendations for future action in the area of Internet governance, and discussed, among other thing, issues related to the administration of Internet names and addresses and the root server system.

Participants agreed that spam – unsolicited or "junk" e-mail, generally advertising for some product sent wide-scale to a mailing list or focus group – while not yet officially on the international agenda, had to be discussed as a matter of priority. The focus was on how to deal with it and protect the Internet, as well as on the need for a multi-faceted approach, involving all interested parties. Proposals put forward ranged from drafting model legislation to more informal models of collaboration.

Continuing its preparations for the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) later this year in Tunis, Tunisia, the 40-member Working Group also addressed two other public policy areas – issues relevant to the Internet but which have a much wider impact, and issues related to Internet governance and development.

Working Group Chairman Nitin Desai opened the consultations by pointing out that their main aim was to assess strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Based on this assessment, there would be a need to look at the changes that may be required. The Working Group should therefore clarify areas that governments were expected to decide on in November at the Tunis Summit, and discuss the roles of the various actors involved in governance arrangements.

Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in his capacity as WSIS Secretary-General, reiterated the main tasks that the Working Group needed to address – to find a working definition of Internet governance, to identify public policy issues and to define roles and responsibilities of all actors.

Some participants at the open consultations wanted Internet governance arrangements to be rooted in the United Nations framework, which in their view would give legitimacy to the system. Others stressed the importance of private sector leadership, which they saw as more suited to deal with the issue due to the nature of the Internet.

 

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