EU, US Call for ICANN Internet Governance Reforms

The U.S. and the European Union have agreed to work together to ensure that domain naming on the Internet remains in the hands of independent private-sector stakeholders, but have demanded reforms.

On Thursday, E.U. Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes and Larry Strickling, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, said that they will continue to support the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) system for assigning top level domains.

The news comes following ICANN's controversial decision to approve the .xxx domain suffix for adult websites last month following years of deliberations. The move has faced opposition from inside and outside the pornography industry, with anti-porn protesters claiming it legitimizes porn and the adult industry concerned that it will make their sites easier to block en masse.

ICANN is also expected to approve a large number of other top level domains at its next meeting in Singapore at the end of June. But both Kroes and Strickling said that reforms are necessary to reinforce the transparency and accountability of ICANN's internal corporate governance.

In particular they stressed the need for the ICANN board to adequately respond to Governmental Advisory Council advice when considering the expansion of generic top level domains and to make a priority of speedily implementing all recommendations made by a transparency review carried out last year.

Kroes wants to see ICANN respond better to governments raising public policy concerns and increased transparency in the way decisions affecting country-code top level domains are made.

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions contract between ICANN and the U.S. government expires in September adding urgency to these calls for reform.

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