EU Commission pushes to dilute U.S. Internet influence

BRUSSELS Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:28am IST

The founder of the protest group Code Pink Medea Benjamin (L) and a protester in a mask depicting U.S. President Barack Obama character as she protests against Obama and NSA before his arrival at the Department of Justice in Washington, January 17, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files

The founder of the protest group Code Pink Medea Benjamin (L) and a protester in a mask depicting U.S. President Barack Obama character as she protests against Obama and NSA before his arrival at the Department of Justice in Washington, January 17, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission called on Wednesday for a dilution of U.S. influence over the organisation of the Internet, a sign of tension following snooping exposed by former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The European Union's executive arm stopped short of demanding greater government control as some countries like China and Russia have pushed for.

Instead, it demanded transparency and less influence of the United States over the institutions controlling the mechanics of the Internet, such as assigning web page addresses that allow computers to locate one another on the network.

Currently, ICANN, a California-based organisation operating under a contract with the U.S. government, oversees the introduction of new internet addresses.

In the coming years, hundreds of new so-called top-level domain addresses such as .london or .sex will be added, offering newcomers more choice of location online as web usage grows.

"Europe must contribute to a credible way forward for global internet governance," said Neelie Kroes, the commissioner in charge of telecoms policy. "Europe must play a strong role in defining what the net of the future looks like."

She backed the 'multi-stakeholder' approach to governance, supported by the United States and industry, under which non-governmental organisations, countries, academics and the private sector collaborate on the network's functioning.

The success of Kroes in pushing for a greater say will depend on the degree to which the alliance of 28 countries in the European Union supports such a push.

"The U.S. government welcomes the strong and continued commitment of the European Commission to the multistakeholder model of Internet governance," Lawrence Strickling, U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, said in a statement.

"We will work with the Commission and other Internet stakeholders to make multistakeholder governance more inclusive, especially to support the engagement of countries in the developing world."

TEST OF RESOLVE

Allegations of vast U.S. spying programs have complicated EU-U.S. ties at a delicate moment in transatlantic relations, as Brussels and Washington are negotiating a free-trade pact that would encompass almost half the world's economy.

Lawmakers in the European Parliament threatened on Wednesday to withhold their consent for this trade pact over data privacy concerns.

A committee said data protection rules should be excluded from the trade talks and negotiated separately with the U.S., adding that "the fight against terrorism can never be a justification for untargeted, secret or even illegal mass surveillance programmes."

Europe's resolve on Internet governance will be tested at a series of major conferences this year, including one in April in Brazil, which has emerged as a major critic of international surveillance carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency.

Late last year, the European Union backed down from threats to suspend agreements granting the United States access to European data, rejecting calls for a tougher stance over alleged U.S. spying.

"Governments already have a significant role within ICANN and it will be enhanced in the future," said Nigel Hickson, ICANN vice president for Europe. "This internationalisation was in train before Snowden."

(Additional reporting by Leila Abboud in Paris and Alina Selyukh in Washington; Editing by Tom Heneghan and Marguerita Choy)

FILED UNDER:

TECH WRAP

Reuters Showcase

GDP Growth

GDP Growth

India's economic growth revised up by almost 50 pct.  Full Article 

Stake Sale

Stake Sale

Strong demand for Coal India boosts privatisation drive.  Full Article 

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet board approves up to $243 mln share sale plan  Full Article 

India Art Fair

India Art Fair

Art fair turns India's capital into art hub.  Full Article 

Child Trafficking

Child Trafficking

Police find hundreds of child slaves making bangles - media   Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Rahasya" is an ode to Agatha Christie.  Full Article 

England Beat India

England Beat India

England reach final after Taylor-made victory.  Full Article 

Change Of Heart

Change Of Heart

Justin Bieber says dropping 'arrogant' and 'conceited' attitude  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage