EU Pushing to Take over ICANN

Ralph DeFrangesco

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) currently operates under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The European Union (EU) stated on Monday that it would like to change that. If the EU has its way, ICANN would run as an independent body with 12 representatives from across the globe.


The issue is that the EU does not like the fact that the U.S. "controls" assigning Internet addresses. Some countries have criticized the U.S. for not opening up more top-level domains (TLD) and feel that it would be run better if managed by an international organization.


I couldn't disagree with this more. First, have you ever listened to the United Nations debate an issue? It takes forever for them to agree on anything and often there is never a resolution. Decisions will be delayed and the advancement of the Internet will come to a crawl. Could you imagine if a quick decision had to be made? This might put us and our companies at risk.


Second, the U.S. generates a tremendous amount of e-commerce traffic on the Internet. Do we want to put our economic future in the hands of countries that do not have as much at stake as we do? Even though the U.S. generates only 30 percent of the total Internet traffic, the majority of e-commerce flows through the U.S. We can debate numbers here, but I'm not going to.


Third, the U.S. maintained the Internet for many years and has done an excellent job at it. Do we want to put TLD and server management in the hands of people that do little to continue the development of it? Please spare me the protocols developed in Europe.


Fourth, many of the countries arguing for a more openly governed Internet do not believe in free expression themselves. Russia, China, North Korea, and some Middle Eastern states are the countries pushing the most for international governance. I could only imagine why.


Finally, the EU should not have a say in how the Internet is being run at all. The EU passed a bill that will soon go into effect that does some really nasty things to users. It limits the number of Web sites a user can visit and it tells you whether you can use a specific service. This will control the flow of information (music, video, and data) over the Internet in those participating European countries. If you do business with any EU country, good luck. The people in those countries will never even know your Web site exists.


I can understand world governments wanting more input into ICANN and server management. Here is what I recommend:


First, the United Nations should create a sub-group where member countries can voice their concerns. This is not a decision-making group, but more of a place to talk about issues.


Second, no member country has input into the daily running of the Internet, ICANN, or its servers, except the U.S. since we are currently managing them.


Third, English should remain the main language on the Internet. Many countries are pushing for their own language. Could you imagine the mess that would create?


Finally, ICANN can do a better job at running things. It should form a working group made up of industry, academics, and IT professionals that meet to improve service.


If the EU were to take over ICANN and management of its servers, our security, economic position, freedoms, and democracy would be at stake. This also puts our companies under the same restraint.

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May 6, 2009 6:00 PM Ralph DeFrangesco Ralph DeFrangesco  says: in response to John Tieso


Thank you for taking the time to respond, and your support.


May 6, 2009 6:09 PM Ralph DeFrangesco Ralph DeFrangesco  says: in response to Peter Wall


First thank you for not just firing off some nasty comment, you put some thought behind your writing. You propose a very valid idea. I am just not convinced that the U.N. are the right people for the job. It seems that when China or Russia squeeze them, they tend to give in. We would all suffer in that case.

I don't think a financial crisis would affect the operations of ICANN. Even if it did, any country that ran it would be subject to the same problem.

I think that it's inevitable that ICANN and their DNS servers will be managed by an international group some day. I just keep thinking about the saying about too many cooks.

Lets please keep up the discussion. I would like to hear more of your opinion.


May 6, 2009 6:22 PM John Tieso John Tieso  says:

While you did not mention it, another good reason for maintaining effective control is that the US (DoD and then ARPA (The Advanced Research Projects Agency) created the Internet as we know it and funded it.  For years it was managed by DoD and only more recently turned over to Commerce for management.

I agree that many of the countries desiring to wrest control from the US want to do so they can control it themselves and limit access of free ideas to their citizens.  Mind control at its best.

John Tieso

Arlington VA

May 6, 2009 6:29 PM Peter Wall Peter Wall  says:

Come again! Why should the U.S. be responsible for an international medium and operational structure. The U.N., slow as it may be, is still the logical choice to manage it. I would suggest the U.N. do it with two distinct groups - a POLICY group and an OPERATIONS group. Their roles are obvious. Imagine the fiasco if something like the current financial crisis, and many others before it, which were primarily U.S. generated, hit the Internet. Tell me why the rest of the world should maintain its confidence in the U.S. doing the job well!

May 7, 2009 6:34 PM Ralph DeFrangesco Ralph DeFrangesco  says: in response to Francis Bulllen Gavor


Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. This is a very heated topic. I appreciate your support.


May 7, 2009 7:20 PM Francis Bulllen Gavor Francis Bulllen Gavor  says: in response to Ralph DeFrangesco

I totaly agree with the writer on this subject. I beleive ICANN should be managed at where it is being managed now. Rather like suggested by the writer a more openess should be encourage to allow experts have some input and suggestions to help the managers have options when it comes to making in form decisions.

In any way this subject is debatable to some extend but then personally I think the reasons assigned in this white paper speaks volume on why the the U.S department of copmmerce must continue to do the yo mans job they are doing.

May 13, 2009 9:16 AM Eddo Eddo  says:

Actually, EU is fully welcome to develop their own means of electronically connecting systems.  And they can work on their own way to bridge that interconnected system to "The Internet" as well.  Their version can fully support as many languages as they want and any number of countries can force their internal networks to use their interconnected system(s).  This has always been true.  Just like the EU does not "join" the US, they are still able to interconnect with our commerce.  So rather than trying to "take over" someone else's design and development, perhaps they can work out better protocols and a more expansive system from scratch.  If it works better and has more freedom, I am sure business will flock to it's use.

May 13, 2009 9:28 AM Ryan Wagner Ryan Wagner  says: in response to John Tieso

Long ago we developed the technology to make oil into something useful.  We set up agreements in countries that were largely buckets of sand.  We developed the equipment, the methods and brought them there.  The ruling class in many of those countries "nationalized" assets and methods they did not develop and broke the agreements that caused us to develop there in the first place. Now immense power is gathered in the hands of a few 'elite' whose interests are not those of us or even the world at large.  They  have immense wealth concentrated in the hands of a few and they dramatically influence our own government and commerce now.

I'm not sure giving up something else that has turned out to be very important is incredibly wise.

Our nation's taxes paid for development of the foundational technology of the Internet.

It served a military purpose and arguably still does.

I have Utopian ideals as well where in a perfect world the Internet would be governed by all but power and governance is never what it is advertised as. 

I distrust this suggested change.  I don't trust our government either but I don't have any angels to give power to.

May 13, 2009 9:38 AM art b art b  says: in response to Peter Wall

Yeah, right!

The UN as an orginazation, (which has its headquarters in the U.S.,

in a building paid for by the U.S.Taxpayer, basically deriving its annual support from the U.S. Taxpayer,) cannot, manage to wipe thier own butts with out a great deal of discussion and agreement over which brand of tissue, (or  to use tissue at all,) or which hand should be utilized for this operation, and with commitee agreements.  All of this occurrs each time prior to getting off the pot.

The maintainance of the internet, while not perfect, should be left where, and as it is. The world needs a chance to be a little more open, not a whole lot more closed. Let all of the despots and thier minions mind thier own buisness, and let all of the rest of us mind ours as we see fit. "Morality cannot be legislated."

May 13, 2009 11:25 AM Netminder Netminder  says:

What country on this planet is more "open" than the USA.  The EU?  Please!  Most of those countries are one step from Marxism.  If you want the internet to remain open and free, it should be run/managed by the most open and free country on the planet.  ICANN should remain in the USA.

May 13, 2009 12:18 PM Russell Russell  says: in response to Peter Wall

The internet was designed and created by the USA and the US and US companies funds about 75% of total cost of the internet. 

So if the EU and Other countries want to help control it. Fine then they pay an equal amount of money to run it and reimbuse the USA of their part of the Cost of the RnD money it took to figure it all out.. At todays adjusted rates of course.

But I say it stays in the hands of the USA is my personal oppion

May 13, 2009 1:36 PM Pierre Coupet Pierre Coupet  says:

The United States governmentby extension, American taxpayershas invested heavily over a period of years in the development of the internet and, so far,  has been a pretty good steward of ICANN.    Therefore, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.   

The last thing we need is another layer of bureaucracy and mindless debate about breaking something so it can be fixed later.  

May 14, 2009 8:31 AM Ryan Wagner Ryan Wagner  says: in response to Peter Wall

I guess I'd be interested in hearing what sort of openness has been applied so far in the respective countries to be considered for being representatives. 

Do they have a commitment to Net Neutrality?  The US is increasingly leaning towards corporate rulership of the Internet which is alarming as they already own the "free press."

May 14, 2009 10:57 AM Nestor Albuquerque Nestor Albuquerque  says:

First thing to do, in my point of vision: take this "US x non-US" debate...

It is true and known by anyone today that the web is, in fact, international and supports business everywhre (regardless of where the majority of its traffics - business and non-business - come from). By the way, inclusion - a good thing we all can make - will change this soon...

Recent unilateral decisions, link one of the conflicts still going on at ME countries, the current financial crisis and decisions on environmental questions, just to mention only three, are very good examples that no decision, on any topic that affects more than one country and nation, should be taken by only one of those involved...

I don't know if it is the UN the one to take this, but it is for sure that some international forum should exist.

I hope I've contributed for this!

Nestor Albuquerque

Campinas, Brasil

May 14, 2009 12:12 PM Ralph DeFrangesco Ralph DeFrangesco  says: in response to Nestor Albuquerque


Your opinion is very important, that is one way we learn and grow. I appreciate the fact that you put together a well thought out response rather than just shooting from the hip. I think the environmental issue is an excellent example of how we can not unite as an international force to tackle global warming. There are still countries that don't believe that global warming is an issue. Putting China in charge of the Internet makes as much sense as putting them in charge of remediating green house gases.

I agree, putting the UN in charge does not make sense either. I thought that we could use them as a mediator.


May 14, 2009 12:43 PM Jon Jon  says: in response to Russell

First I agree ICANN should stay in control and EU can put its head where the sun doesn't shine but..

1. It was a Brit working at NPL who defined Internet routing and

2. Another Brit that defined the WWW

3. European universities and research organizations were heavily involved in the foundations of the Internet

May 14, 2009 1:49 PM Yony Yony  says:

comments from U.S. people obvioulsy would say something like the above, but...what would happen if you suit yourselves in EU people's shoes?

don't be that selfish U.S. People!...everyone has the right to enjoy a moment   of grace

May 14, 2009 3:04 PM Nestor Albuquerque Nestor Albuquerque  says: in response to Ralph DeFrangesco

Ok, but UN as mediators has not been that successfull, either. Take my examples above...nothing would've happened if they were listened, and of course many other issues.

What seems to be missing in this particular case of the web (you started that...:) is a global forum, with representatives from both business and non-governmental organizations (I don't believe in governmental bodies either, for (I think) obvious reasons). In other words, people who has something at stake, other than shelfish, greedy motives.

The web has still a lot to offer to the human race, and it's a pitty it's been mistreated by all of us.

Well, I think it'll take a few weeks to years for us all to develop good ideas on this issue. Let's hope for the good!

May 14, 2009 4:00 PM Pedro Ribeiro Pedro Ribeiro  says:

Dear Mr. DeFrangesco,

Your title is misleading and incorrect, biasing the whole interest of the thread and anything that follows.

Another big example of the USA presbyopia that will continuously increase the transcontinental divide. Don't tell us that the USA also invented the WWW, before that 'your' internet pretty limited.


Pedro Ribeiro EU/Portugal

May 14, 2009 4:47 PM Ralph DeFrangesco Ralph DeFrangesco  says: in response to Pedro Ribeiro


Thank you for taking the time to respond. I do not feel that the title of my blog is either incorrect or wrong. I have read many articles on this subject to draw the conclusions that I did. I do not wish to foster conflict or dissidence between the U.S. and the EU. However, I have an opinion and I do not agree that the EU, or any other country, has the right to take away the management of ICANN and its servers from the U.S. When we needed help in the development of the hardware, software, protocols, and backbone of the Internet, no one was to be found. Now, everyone wants a share in it because it's "Global" and has international utility.

We all know that Tim Berners Lee, an English citizen, is credited with inventing the WWW. There is no debate about this, or its impact on the development of Internet. There have been many great additions to the "Internet" by non-US citizens. I don't think that there is any debate here either. I see no argument for the U.S. to give up its current role either.


May 14, 2009 5:04 PM Ralph DeFrangesco Ralph DeFrangesco  says: in response to Ralph DeFrangesco


I want to thank all of you for taking the time to voice your opinions. This is obviously an emotional issue for those of us that are U.S. citizens. Debate is a good thing. It gives us the freedom to express our emotions about how we feel. Unfortunately, many countries do not allow their citizens to enjoy the same freedoms that we have as U.S. citizens.  

I guess this is my concern in this whole mess; what would happen if management of the Internet, on any level, is given to countries like China, Russia, or North Korea to name just a few? They tightly control their citizens freedoms (or lack of freedoms) today. These countries would like to "control" the rest of the world if they could. Why would we ever give away management of one of the most expressive mediums available to us?

Just a thought,


May 14, 2009 5:59 PM Peter Wall Peter Wall  says: in response to Ralph DeFrangesco

The internet, though initially developed in the U.S. (i.e. ARPANET), has become an international phenomenom thanks to developments and improvements made by many persons throughout the world. No one disputes that U.S. based institutions have done a very good job, if not an excellent job, in managing the structure of the Internet to date, and are positioned to keep doing such a job for some time to come.

The fact of the matter however is that the Internet is now an international structure that reaches everywhere on the globe. One can take the attitude that it is now too important to let "rogue" nations play any role in its policies and operation. However, the opposite view is just as compelling, that is, it is the responsibility of all persons and nations to oversee its policies and operation.

The U.S. can play a leading role in managing the evolution of this responsibility into an international perspective, or it can sit back and tell the rest of the world where to stick it! The former is painfully obvious as the way to go. If the globalization of responsibility for the internet is not undertaken, the risk of the Internet being broken up into myriad, incompatible technologies is real. The world will not only see geo-political nations, but "geo-electronic" nations.

The notion where human rights and freedoms are universal is idyllic and worthy of pursuit. If Internet policy, management. and administration does not become an international responsibility, there is a much greater liklihood that some nations will develop their own Internet particularly if they feel they have no role in its evolution. Note that it is not "rogue" nations that are requesting a role here, but nations that have a demonstrated commitment to the concepts of democracy and freedom!

May 15, 2009 9:46 AM salamanderthejust salamanderthejust  says:

I dont really see how anyone can possibly believe any country other then the US should be in control of ICANN. The UN? LOL. i mean... ...seriously...LMAO LOL!!!

May 15, 2009 1:53 PM John Culling John Culling  says: in response to Eddo

@Eddo  We have two options: (1) collaborate or (2) challenge the others to beat us.   Didn't we face the same decision when Europe decided to launch their own Navigation Satellites?  Now they are close to a superior system and we have no means to control it. (ie. to switch it off in time of war).


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