UN: web shouldn't be governed by super body

A super-organisation governing global internet matters isn't a good idea - this is according to Hamadoun Toure, the UN's new general secretary for ITU, the International Telecommunications Union .

Currently, a private American organisation, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) , is responsible for managing domain names and website allocation for the entire world. It reports to the US Department of Commerce , however, and has been criticised in the past with regard to the influence the US Government has over it.

Countries including Brazil and Iran are now calling for the United Nations (UN) to take over responsibility for global internet matters.

Another alternative is to create a whole new organisation for internet matters. But this isn't necessary, according to Toure. In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Toure said implementing a new oversight body would be "difficult and too controversial". Instead, he argued for better cooperation between existing key organisations, such as ICANN and the ITU.

Freedom of speech

Toure said that ITU's role is primarily to handle issues relating to internet security, not its content. The organisation should not comment on issues concerning freedom of speech or censorship.

"Freedom of expression is a question of content-editing, which is beyond the mandate of ITU," Toure said.

The agency's priority was rather to "ensure the proper functioning of the communications infrastructure between countries, and of common technical standards," he said.

But is it so bad to have multiple, independent organisations governing internet matters? Having one sole organisation responsible for overseeing all internet-related issues - be it the UN or someone else - carries the risk of developing a Big Brother-like system, with decreased transparency and external monitoring. Are we ready for that?