Saturday

16th Nov 2019

EU bids to end US dominance in internet control

  • The EU commission wants there to be international control over the structures that govern the web (Photo: Bombardier)

The European Commission wants to end US control over the governance of the internet, according to a report published Wednesday (12 February).

The EU paper on "Europe's role in shaping the future of Internet governance" calls for an international group to replace the California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which manages the assignation of domains such as .com, .co.uk and .org to new websites.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

At present, the United States is the centre of power behind the structure of the internet. ICANN currently has an exclusive contract with the US government, with whom a number of jurisdictions complain it has a too-cosy relationship.

EU digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes called for "a timeline to globalise ICANN" and warned that the web should not be allowed to "unravel into a series of regional or national networks."

The paper claims that "greater international balance within the existing structures can increase the legitimacy of current governance arrangements."

Speaking with reporters on Wednesday (12 February), Kroes said the issue of internet governance was likely to rise up the political agenda in the upcoming years.

"These will be make or break years for deciding for what sort of Internet we want to have," she said, adding that "Europe must play a strong role in defining what the net of the future looks like."

But the paper's fate will depend on how much agreement on a common internet strategy can be reached between the bloc's 28 governments.

The online economy is one of the fastest growing sectors in Europe and its share of the bloc's economic output is forecast to increase from 3.8 percent in 2010 to 5.7 percent in 2016, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group.

But public trust in the web has been rocked over the past year by a series of scandals, many of them documented by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealing the scale of government surveillance by the US national security services.

The scandals are expected to have a big impact on the online economy. The US cloud industry faces up to €25.8 billion in lost revenues, according to a report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.

EU-US relations are already tense when it comes to regulating the web. On Wednesday MEPs backed a report calling for the suspension of two data-sharing agreements between the two blocs.

Meanwhile, a handful of governments, including Russia, China, and Brazil, have called for greater government control over the Internet.

However, Kroes said that the commission did not favour more state control of the web. "We are rejecting a United Nations or government of internet governance … we want geographic balance not government control," she said.

Instead, the EU executive favours a "multi-stakeholder" approach in which governments, industry, academics, and campaign groups, collaborate on the network's functioning.

Agenda

Key moments for new commission This WEEK

MEPs will decide on Monday if they want the Hungarian commissioner-designate to come back for a second hearing, as commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen hopes to finally take office on 1 December.

EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner

The European Commission has started an infringement proceeding against the United Kingdom for failing to nominate a commissioner-candidate. The new commission, which wants to launch on 1 December, first requires a commissioner from each of the 28 EU states.

Opinion

Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room

Over the years, both real and perceived levels of corruption in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia have remained high. The necessary reforms in those countries, to put it mildly, are not yet effectively carried out.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan politicians extradition hearing postponed
  2. Germany: EU banking union deal possible in December
  3. EIB: no more funding of fossil-fuel projects
  4. UK defence chief: Russia could trigger World War III
  5. Hungary's Varhelyi will face more questions
  6. Police put former Berlusconi MEP Comi under house arrest
  7. MEPs criticise Poland for criminalising sex education
  8. UK will not name new commissioner before election

Podcast

Cultural Battlefield

Marta Keil knows firsthand the pressure on culture from Poland's ruling Law and Justice party. Her overview begins at the Polski theatre in the city of Wrocław, and describes an epic clash as the Polish museum sector is steadily hollowed-out.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. Key moments for new commission This WEEK
  2. EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner
  3. Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room
  4. Green MEPs unconvinced by Romanian commissioner
  5. EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors
  6. Hungary's commissioner-to-be grilled over loyalty to Orban
  7. Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act
  8. Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us