The issue of administering Internet domain names should be discussed at next month’s world information summit in Geneva, "otherwise the world continues to be governed by California law", says president Thabo Mbeki.

Mbeki addressed a media conference last week, after a meeting of the President’s International Advisory Council (PIAC) that deals with IT issues relating to this country’s and Africa’s development.

"We need to discuss the possibility of putting in place a multilateral mechanism for Internet governance and the summit is a good place to do it," Mbeki said. "It may be the current way it is governed through ICANN is the best way, but this has to be examined."

The World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) is due to be held in Switzerland from 10 to 12 December. The issue of Internet governance has been a major sticking point between government and non-government organisations in the run-up to the event.

Many of the poorer nations such as Brazil, SA, Saudi Arabia and China would like to see the administration of Internet domain name registrations moved from the public private company ICANN, which is incorporated under California law, to a multinational organisation such as the United Nations. However, the US and the European Union staunchly support the ICANN model.

According to Department of Communications minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, at the same news conference, the WSIS will address a number of other issues that have developed into sticking points between the more developed and less developed of the world’s economies. These are human rights, the protection of intellectual property, Internet security, the media and the Internet, and financing to get poorer countries up to speed with connecting to the Internet.

IT Web