In a recent strategy document, the European Commission—the executive branch of the European Union—called for greater transparency and multilateral accountability in Internet governance.
“There are today 1.5 billion Internet users worldwide, 300 million of which are in the European Union’s 27 Member States,” noted the press release issued on the occasion. “At present, a private U.S.-based body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), is responsible for coordinating key elements of the Internet. The Commission agrees that private companies should continue to take the lead in the day-to-day management of the operation of the Internet, as long as they are accountable and independent. The Commission also believes that decisions about the Internet, especially those about openness and security, should be taken in a transparent and accountable manner because they affect everyone around the globe. ICANN currently operates under a joint project agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce, which expires on September 30, 2009. In the view of the European Commission, future Internet governance arrangements should reflect the key role that the global network has come to play for all countries.”
Chapter 7 of the Internet Governance: The Next Steps report published by the European Commission reads: “The experience of the last 10 years demonstrates the viability of the policy approach advocated by the E.U. for Internet governance so far. The Commission believes in maintaining the E.U.’s strong emphasis on the need for security and stability of the global Internet, the respect for human rights, freedom of expression, privacy, protection of personal data, and the promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity.”
The report is available in English, French, and German from the European Commission website.