Saturday

25th Mar 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum

EU 27 leaders in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Rome, in bid to counter rising challenges after Brexit. But new ideas are scarce.

Column / Brexit Briefing

The Union under threat

The effect of Brexit will be much more profound on Northern Ireland than on Scotland. Some kind of border controls with Ireland seem inevitable.

'Mr Putin steps into French elections'

Putin treated France's anti-EU firebrand, Le Pen, as if she had already won the elections. "I have my own viewpoint ... identical to Russia's", she said.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  2. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  3. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  5. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  6. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  7. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  9. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  10. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  11. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change