Asia Pacific nations could soon take on a greater role in overseeing the internet as a process to remove the US Government from that role gains pace.
The US Government said two years ago that it would give up its official oversight role, for which it is contracted by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Though pressure had been building over a decade for this to occur, according to the Washington Post, international backlash to the National Security Agency’s activities forced the US Government to act.
ICANN chief Fadi Chehade told AFP newswire last month that a transition plan that has been in preparation for over two years’ since would be delivered to the US Government this month.
Chehade did not believe the US ceding its control over the internet would cause major problems in day-to-day running.
“"People have aggrandised the role of the US government in what we do. But the change is actually minimal,” he said.
“It's important symbolically because the US was really a steward for the Internet, but for day-to-day accountability, it is minimal."
Jia-Rong Low, vice president and managing director for ICANN’s Asia Pacific chapter, said Friday that nations in this region had provided input into the drafting of the transition plan.
However, he did not reveal any of the mechanics of the draft plan – for example, what specific role it is proposed that Asia Pacific nations might play.
“Asia Pacific has traditionally been a ‘price taker’ in Internet governance, but we’ve seen this changing over the past two years,” Low said.
The strong participation from our Asia Pacific community has demonstrated an increased confidence and readiness to step up to the global table.
“The region is home to roughly half of the world’s Internet population, which is just over three billion.
“For the Internet to continue evolving for our benefit, it must adapt according to the needs of its stakeholders. It is thus important to ensure the wide participation of stakeholder groups in multi-stakeholder Internet governance.”
ICANN already provides this kind of “multi-stakeholder” governance model, believing it has already “preserved the Internet’s openness, allowing it to grow and expand the way it did, changing the lives of many.”
Low said it was “vital that stakeholders, especially from [the Asia Pacific], participate in the Internet’s governance”.
“We recognise that this is a diverse region with many different languages, cultures and needs,” Low said.
As the Asia Pacific region would largely drive the next major growth of the internet, Low believed similarly that the region should have a greater say in governance.
“The next billion Internet users are expected to come from developing nations, including many Asian countries such as China, India and Indonesia,” Low said.
“These next billion will play a key role in the future of the Internet.”