InternetNZ sceptical of state control

The head of New Zealand's internet management body, InternetNZ's Peter Macaulay, is sceptical of governments' ability to run the net

The head of New Zealand's internet management body, InternetNZ's Peter Macaulay, is sceptical of governments' ability to run the net.

“The internet globally will not be controllable by governments,” he says, in response to the wish of some countries to assume regulatory power. “They can try to block certain addresses from their people, but there’s everyone else [outside their boundaries] and there will always be some way round it.”

It’s hard enough for organistions with “legitimate” security concerns to stop their data and their users’ activities leaking beyond, say, a virtual private network, he says. “It would be impossible for a country to do it.”

Macaulay plans to make the business of internet governance clearer to a broader range of New Zealanders.

He will set the ball rolling in Auckland this Wednesday at a New Zealand Computer Society event, where he wants to begin lifting InternetNZ's profile "and, frankly, I want to encourage membership growth".

Depending on the success of the Auckland event, it may be repeated in other centres.

Macaulay thinks the International Telecommunication Union or a similar inter-governmental organisation stand no chance of adequately governing the international internet. “There are still a lot of problems with ICANN — [for example] the inability to recognise the nature of ccTLDs [country-code top-level domains]."

Despite reforms in which InternetNZ international committee chairman Peter Dengate Thrush played a significant part, governance is still too heavily weighted towards the US, Macaulay says. But ICANN is listening to arguments from the ccTLD quarter, he says. “We don’t want a kind of UN of the internet”, which could be the outcome if the ITU took over.

The move for governmental and inter-governmental control looks to be the view of a minority of participants at the conference, Macaualy says. “I’d certainly be concerned if any real move emerged to get governments involved. It is almost needless to say, he says, that InternetNZ would be opposed to such a move.

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