US Tech Industry Lobbyist Dodges “Wild West” Of WSIS 15/11/2005 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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)To get a sense of how this week’s second UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunisia is different from the first WSIS held two years ago, one need only talk to a US technology industry lobbyist who this year decided to stay away. “People keep asking me what am I doing here,” Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology, said to reporters in Geneva on Monday. “I am not going to Tunis because I cannot identify a set of discrete activities that I could add value to there. It’s sort of a Wild West atmosphere.” Two years ago, Zuck was at the summit, held then in Geneva, and went head-to-head on a panel with the leader of the free software movement, Richard Stallman. Zuck in essence represented ACT member Microsoft on the panel, and Stallman audibly booed and gesticulated as Zuck made his points, while Microsoft officials looked quietly on from the back of the room. A chief reason for the two-part summit was originally to help spread the benefits of information and communication technologies to the lives of all people around the world. And while this remains an important element of the talks in Tunis, the issue of internationalising governance of the Internet has grabbed the spotlight. On Internet governance, Zuck said he sees three groups of people in the debate: those like him and others in industry who feel that if something is really important and “mission critical” and working then it should be left alone; those in some countries like the EU that believe that if it is really important and mission critical then it belongs with government; and those who are “diametrically opposed” to open information flows on the Internet such as China and Iran. Zuck’s (and US industry’s) message is on Internet governance is that it is different from Internet management, and that the current manager is doing a pretty good job overall. That is the California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is under threat from a European Union proposal to create an international cooperation on Internet governance, and from a UN working group on Internet governance set of recommendations including the creation of a global discussion forum. Zuck is readily critical of some of ICANN’s past actions, or inactions, but he favours improvements within the status quo over radical change in the successful Internet structure. This should be accomplished by the marketplace and perhaps an enhanced ICANN Government Advisory Committee. “Turning some sort of government committee loose [to address needed improvements in Internet management] really is far worse than the status quo,” he said. By comparison, he referenced the recent passage at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) of a cultural diversity treaty, which he termed a “cultural filtering” treaty. In particular, he said ICANN should become more international and do a better job of staying out of public policy debates. He also criticised ICANN for moving into regulating types of technology on the Internet and the slow pace at which it has addressed foreign language domain names and the next generation Internet, IPv.6. “ICANN has a job of self-promotion it needs to do,” he said. Asked about government criticism of ICANN’s recent approval of a .xxx domain, Zuck blamed the governments for not having participated in the decision-making process earlier. Perhaps it is not hard to understand Zuck’s view, as ACT has numerous members who benefit from the status quo, including VeriSign, the company which exclusively manages the .com and .net domains under contract with ICANN, accounting for the majority of accredited domain names in the world. US industry and government argue that anyone in the world may innovate on the Internet as it stands. But for much of the rest of the world, the view appears to be that it is time for a change. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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 "US Tech Industry Lobbyist Dodges “Wild West” Of WSIS" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.