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UN panel to end Internet tug of war by July

UN panel to end Internet tug of war by July

A United Nations-sponsored panel aims to settle a long-running tug of war for control of the Internet by July and propose solutions to problems such as cyber crime and email spam, panel leaders said on Monday.

The panel, set up in December 2003, will lay groundwork for a final decision to be taken in Tunis in November at a U.N.-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society, where global control of the World Wide Web may be decided.

Right now, the most recognizable Internet governance body is a California-based non-profit company, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

But developing countries want an international body, such as the U.N.'s International Telecommunication Union (ITU), to have control over governance -- from distributing Web site domains to fighting spam.

"There is an issue that is out there and that needs to be resolved," said Nitin Desai, chairman of working group and special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Incorporated in 1998, ICANN oversees management of the Internet's crucial addressing system which matches numerical addresses to familiar Website addresses.

While its oversight has been confined to technical matters, critics say that it is subject to U.S. political influence.

The ITU, a 138-year-old trade body that among other things established country code rules for international telephone calls, is seen by developing countries as being better able to address their needs.


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