Global conference debates internet governance in Brazil

Government officials, academics and technical experts from some 90 countries met to debate how the internet should be run

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An international two-day conference in Brazil came to a close Thursday night with a call for an effective, legitimate and evolving framework for internet governance.

During the two days of the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, or NETmundial, government officials, academics and technical experts from some 90 countries met in Sao Paulo to debate how the internet should be run.

The meeting's final statement welcomed the U.S. government's recent announcement that it plans to turn over the internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as ICANN, which manages the core functions of the Internet, to a "global multi-stakeholder community" once its contract with the U.S. Commerce Department expires in 2015.

"It is expected that the process of globalization of ICANN will lead to a truly international and global organization serving the public interest with clearly implementable and verifiable accountability and transparency mechanisms that satisfy requirements from both internal stakeholders and the global community," it said.

China, Russia and other countries have advocated putting management of the Internet's core under control of the International Telecommunications Union, a U.N. body. But online civil liberties activists and governments including the United States oppose the idea, fearing such a move would strengthen the hand of countries that have been censoring online expression.

The NETmundial conference was seen as an effort to chart a path for a less U.S.-centric Internet.

The conference's final document said "mass and arbitrary surveillance undermines trust in the Internet." However, it added that "more dialogue is needed on this topic."