ITU Candidates Tread Lightly On Internet Governance03/11/2006 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You also have the opportunity to offer additional support to your subscription, or to donate.By William New The candidates for next week’s election to succeed UN International Telecommunication Union Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi (right) are not following his platform of drawing international pressure to change the US-centric Internet domain name system.The ITU has been the organiser of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process, and considers itself to have a mandate from governments to be involved in Internet governance. In addition, some argue that with telecommunications convergence there are no real turf boundaries anymore so Internet governance naturally falls to the ITU as well as others.The two WSIS summits, in 2003 and 2005, begat the Internet Governance Forum, the first meeting of which was held here this week. Despite, or perhaps because of, the last-minute push before ITU government representatives’ selection of their new leader, several candidates for ITU jobs stopped by the out-of-the-way resort to mingle.There are a high number of candidates for positions at the ITU, not just for secretary-general. The new leader should be chosen early in the plenipotentiary meeting, an ITU official said. The ITU plenipotentiary is the agency’s top policymaking event held every four years. This year it will be held in Antalya, Turkey from 6-24 November. Policy discussions there are expected to include Internet governance issues, according to ITU sources.The candidates for secretary-general, according to the ITU, are: Roberto Blois Montes de Souza (Brazil), ITU deputy secretary-general; Marc Furrer (Switzerland), president of the Swiss Federal Communications Commission; Matthias Kurth (Germany), president of the Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway; Muna Nijem (Jordan), president, chair and CEO of the Jordanian telecommunications regulatory commission; Montasser Ouaili (Tunisia), Tunisian minister of communication technologies; and Hamadoun Touré (Mali), director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.Biographies and interviews of the candidates for secretary-general and other positions may be found at:http://www.itu.int/plenipotentiary/2006/newsroom/elections/index.html.Sources following the campaigns say the candidates have stepped lightly on the issue of Internet governance, keeping references to the issue rather broad rather than calling for change in the current Internet system, though most have had some involvement with the WSIS. Kurth and Furrer visited the 30 October – 2 November Internet Governance Forum and held receptions for participants.Kurth committed a gaffe at the forum when an announcement was made to the entire multistakeholder meeting, with strong non-governmental representation, that he would hold a reception for government officials only. This was upsetting to an event oriented around openness and inclusion, and was quickly changed to invite anyone. Kurth attended the 2005 WSIS, according to his biography.Kurth said at his reception that he would seek to build better ties with ICANN, and then met with ICANN chairman Vint Cerf and president Paul Twomey the next morning, according to a participant.Furrer led the Swiss delegation to the WSIS when it hosted the summit in 2003 and gained the confidence of various stakeholders as the mediator for final negotiations on the political declaration and action plan.Blois also has a prominent role in the Internet governance issue, as with any ITU matter, due to his position as number two at the agency since 1998.Nijem has focused on technology transfer and capacity building, and played a role in the WSIS process, according to her biography.Like Furrer, Ouaili benefited from his country’s hosting of a WSIS summit. He chaired the Tunisian commission on WSIS in 2004 and 2005, and led the Tunisian delegation to the WSIS preparatory committee process.Change Is Good?A US telecom industry lobbyist said some do not want Blois elected as they see him taking a similar stance as Utsumi since he is his deputy. US representatives may be alone in opposing a candidate who is in favour of changing the global Internet structure.Utsumi repeated his theme when he opened this week’s forum with a call for change to the existing system, which he said many see as full of problems. The organisation currently in charge of the Internet domain name system’s technical side is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). California-based ICANN has a contractual relationship with a US company and is required to answer to the US government only. ICANN officials spent considerable effort at the forum explaining why their model is best and raising doubts about Internet security and stability should competition for their role arise.The European Union has been intent on forcing a change in the arrangement, but was mildly supportive of the early October announcement of the renewal of the US-ICANN relationship. Europe and the United States may have developed a deal on the issue, according to one EU source. In addition, EU officials may have held back criticism of the renewed US-ICANN relationship since it was just weeks before a tough US election in which any move could have drawn lashback from elected officials looking for an issue to grab onto.Others want change as well. Many in developing countries decry the system as marginalising and demand greater inclusion. Nations at odds with the United States, such as Iran, passionately demand change as well.William New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"ITU Candidates Tread Lightly On Internet Governance" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.