The Multilateralist

A looming turf war over Internet governance?

A looming turf war over Internet governance?

Today’s Financial Times reports here on the imminent departure of Rod Beckstrom, CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)–a nonprofit corporation headquartered in the United States–and notes that his departure may presage a power struggle in which China, Russia and some other countries seek to have internet governance moved from ICANN to the International Telecommunications Union or some other UN body over which they can exert more influence. The New York Times concurs:

The announcement of Mr. Beckstrom’s departure could set off a new round of international wrangling over control of Icann and Internet governance. Set up by the U.S. government, the organization gained greater autonomy in 2009, around the time that Mr. Beckstrom took over.

But some governments, including those of Russia and China, are said to want to exercise greater control over Internet governance, perhaps via an organization like the International Telecommunications Union, which operates under the auspices of the United Nations.

For some background on the longrunning, low-level tension between ICANN and the ITU, see this piece by Tom Gjelten.