Global Internet forum ends with promises, concerns

03 Nov 2006

(Associated Press via NewsEdge) The first UN-hosted conference on the Internet ended with the promise of breakthrough technologies to accelerate online access in developing countries and concerns of growing government interference globally.

Key participants said that the four-day meeting had at least helped clarify differences between governments, industry and online groups ahead of the next Internet Governance Forum, scheduled for next year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

'In my country, India, you have arranged marriages and usually in the first meeting the boy and the girl tend to scope each other out and discuss everything,' chief UN organizer Nitin Desai said. 'In the second or third, they talk about specific things, what are your tastes in this or that area, and it's quite a while before they actually start holding hands. Let's treat this as a first meeting.'

The conference was dominated by ongoing disputes about online censorship, efforts to make the Internet appeal to non-English speakers and concerns about how the global network is run.

The UN International Telecommunication Union renewed a challenge to the US organization that oversees global Internet functions, arguing that governments worldwide would inevitably play a greater role in the future regulation of the Internet.

'For better or for worse, the Internet will in due course not be governed or regulated in a way that is fundamentally different from the way that other things are governed,' ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi said as the forum opened.

This week's gathering grew out of last year's UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia.

© 2006 The Associated Press

© 2006 Dialog, a Thomson business. All rights reserved

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