* U.S. fears U.N. influence over Internet governance
* NTIA's Strickling calls on companies to get involved
* Cautions that treaty debate could stifle growth of
By Jasmin Melvin
WASHINGTON, June 15 Executives were urged to
join the fight to keep the Internet free from centralized
control, ahead of a conference later this year where U.S.
government officials fear countries will vote to give the United
Nations more power over the Web.
"Get your company involved. Work to get likeminded countries
involved. What is at stake here is just that important,"
Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Strickling told the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce's telecom committee on Friday.
Delegations from 193 countries will meet in Dubai this
December to renegotiate a U.N. telecommunications treaty last
revisited in 1988, and debate proposals that would consolidate
control over the Internet with the United Nations' International
Telecommunications Union (ITU).
U.S. officials have expressed concerns that U.N.
involvement could empower efforts by developing nations to tax
large technology companies such as Google Inc and
They have also warned it could aid Internet censorship by
countries like China and Iran.
Private-sector members and other non-government
representatives will be added in September to the core U.S.
delegation of government officials going to Dubai.
"Our role in the federal government needs to be one of
supporting more inclusion and standing firm against the efforts
of one faction or another to... tip outcomes in their favor,"
said Strickling, who also heads the National Telecommunications
and Information Administration (NTIA).
He stressed the "need to understand that an Internet
constrained by an international treaty likely will stifle the
innovators and entrepreneurs who are responsible for its awesome
The Internet is currently policed loosely, with technical
bodies such as the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the World
Wide Web Consortium largely dictating its infrastructure and
The global system of computer networks that now reaches
billions of people had its origins in U.S. government research
in the 1960s.