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Raj Nallari's picture

Internet technology began as a Cold War communications network developed by  America’s Department of Defense (DOD).  Between 1968 and 1998, the DOD controlled the operation of internet protocols and was coordinated by a tech-god (late Jon Postel).  Since 1998, a group called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) operating under the oversight of the American Government manages the dot-com addresses, names and routing numbers. 

Overtime, internet communication became the platform domestic and international trade through e-commerce and business-to-business transactions.  As a result of use of e-trade, world-wide trade of goods and services increased from nothing in early 1980s to $282 billion in 2000 to $6.9 trillion in mid-2005.  Of this, USA accounts for almost half of the sales ($3.2 trillion in 2004), with Western Europe a close second at $1.5 trillion.

As other countries begin to enter e-commerce, with China, India, Japan, and South Korea  making important technical contributions to Net,  American-dominated ICANN’s control is not appreciated.  The loudest critics have been monopoly telecom providers from developing countries seeking to enter the high-charges based, lucrative telecom traffic.  At the United Nations’ World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis in November 2005, delegations from various countries agreed to establish an Internet Governance Forum in 2006.  Some countries are considering creating of local dot-coms, such as .in for India, which could also permit web-addresses in local languages.  This would create competition and require separating naming and numbering systems, in addition to ICANN.  Will the governance of world.wide.web improve?

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