The head of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) has warned against letting the corporation become the domain of any one group.
Icann president and chief executive Rod Beckstrom told attendees at the Internet Governance Forum in Vilinius, Lithuania that the organisation must stay out of the hands of a single interest in order to properly function.
"Most internet users, businesses, service providers, non-profits and consumers would be shut out of the governance debate," he said.
"Make no mistake: if we do not address this now the multi-stakeholder model that enabled so many successes will slip from our grasp."
Specifically, Beckstrom warned against allowing inter-governmental organisations to seize control of Icann.
The organisation has been looking to adopt a new governance model following its handover from the US government to an international government advisory committee.
Beckstrom insisted, however, that the committee should represent the interests of all parties and not just inter-governmental groups.
"If governance were to become the exclusive province of nation states or captured by any other interests, we would lose the foundation of the internet's long-term potential and transformative value," he said.
Other industry players agreed. Lesley Cowley, chief executive of .uk registry Nominet, praised the work of the Internet Governance Forum in providing a platform where disparate stakeholders can come together, share knowledge and solve problems relating to internet governance.
"No single universal regulatory or purely inter-governmental global oversight can ever align itself successfully with the diversity and sheer pace of change in this sector nor the engagement of multi-stakeholders," she said.
"The only model of global internet governance that will achieve this is one that allows all concerned to work together, through multi-stakeholder participation and partnerships. And this is where the IGF comes in."
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