TUNIS, Tunisia – Delegates at the World Summit on the Information Society have agreed on a document that allows the United States to maintain its role as administrator of the Internet.
A number of countries, including Syria, China, Iran, Cuba and Pakistan, actively campaigned to have a U.N.-affiliated agency put in charge of the net, and that had U.S. officials worried that the conference would lead to a cyberspace coup.
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Despite their defeat, countries critical of the negotiated arrangement aren’t giving up their fight, denouncing the California-based non-profit company, overseen by the Commerce Department, that will continue to administer the net, specifically Web site names and addresses.
U.S. officials, fearing that an administrative turnover might lead to censorship and a tax on e-mails, said that the agreement is a big win for Washington and Web users alike.
"The proposals that were put on the table to take, to destabilize the Internet by taking away the unique roll that the U.S. government has historically played to ensure the reliability and stability of the Internet all failed," said Ambassador David Gross, U.S. coordinator for international communications and information.
The topic of who should control the Internet was not the only controversy at the summit. Holding the summit in Tunisia, a North African country human rights groups claim has banned Web sites that criticize its government, caused some controversy.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan offered no apologies for the chosen location of the summit, but did admit that the Tunisian government had been guilty of repressing freedom of expression. Annan also said that the U.N. has no desire to takeover the net.
While it seems that the United States came out of the summit victorious, officials warn that the country has to stay vigilant against future takeover attempts. The agreement establishes a global forum to discuss Internet issues. The forum has no authority to implement change, but it could keep alive the prospect of taking Internet control away from the United States.
FOX News' David Lee Miller and Jonathan Wachtel contributed to this report.