Internet should be run by key players: ITU boss

The Internet should continue to be overseen by major agencies including ICANN and the ITU, rather than any new "superstructure", the new head of the International Telecommunications Union said on Friday.

Hamadoun Toure, who took up the reins of the United Nations agency this month, said the ITU would focus on tackling cyber-security and in narrowing the "digital divide" between rich and poor countries.

"We all must work together, each agency has its role to play. We must come to a better cooperation ... and avoid setting up a superstructure which would be very controversial and very difficult to put into effect," Toure told a news conference.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based non-profit company, manages the Internet's domain-name addressing system. It reports to the U.S. Commerce Department, which last September said it would retain oversight for three more years.

Some critics say the U.S. government has too much control over ICANN, which has evolved into a crucial engine for global commerce, communications and culture. Countries such as Iran and Brazil have argued that the Internet should be managed by the United Nations or another global body.

"It is not my intention to take over the governance of Internet. I don't think it is in the mandate of ITU and as secretary-general I will continue to contribute to the debate over Internet governance and continue to provide technical support," said Toure, an electrical engineer from Mali.

"I will be focusing on cyber-security ...," he added.

But asked about repression of freedom of expression on the Internet, including in China where Internet users have been imprisoned, Toure replied: "Freedom of expression is a question of content-editing, which is beyond the mandate of ITU."

"ITU does not deal with the content of the Internet, but it has to be involved in the security of the network," he said.

In addition to overseeing electronic numbering, ITU will back the Internet's growth through broadband standardisation, e-commerce security, and video-recording systems that will enable 3G to be accessible to the Internet, according to Toure.

Toure, who joined ITU in 1999, was elected secretary-general last November, succeeding Japan's Yoshio Utsumi. The agency has 191 member states and 640 private sector members.

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