Late deal avoids split on internet governance

From New Scientist and the AFP:

A last-minute deal has avoided a potentially damaging split between the US and other nations over future control of the internet, ahead of a UN summit aimed at reducing the global digital divide.

The agreement was reached the night before the start of the World Summit on the Internet Society, which opened in Tunisia on Wednesday. Some observers had suggested that the internet could have been torn into competing or disconnected networks if the issue of internet governance had not been resolved.

The deal maintains US control of the internet, through the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers based in California. ICANN manages the domain name system, which underpins the web by mapping site names to their numerical (IP) addresses. It is expected to have its tender renewed by the US government in summer 2006

But the deal also sets up talks about international cooperation on oversight and policy issues. Countries such as Iran and China had sought UN oversight of internet governance, while the European Union wanted to water down US powers.

More here.