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U.N. report challenges Feds' control of Net

Long-awaited report says "no single government should have a pre-eminent role" in Internet governance.

A United Nations working group has published a long-awaited report that effectively challenges U.S. supremacy over Internet domain names.

The report says that "no single government should have a pre-eminent role in relation to international Internet governance"--which runs directly contrary to the Bush administration's position announced last month.

But the U.N. group couldn't decide what should be done about it. Instead of reaching a consensus, the nations participating in the discussions listed four possible options ranging from modest changes to creating an entirely new "Global Internet Council" under the auspices of the United Nations.

At issue for the group is who runs the Internet and how it can better serve the world. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has long pressed industry, government and private interest groups to ensure that people in poor nations have greater access to the Internet.

Among the governance options put forward by the group were a continuation of the current system, creation of a world body to address public policy issues stemming from the work of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and creation of a body to address a broader range of public policy issues. The fourth option is to create three bodies, one to address policy issues, one for oversight and one for global coordination.

The group also recommended a coordinated global effort to combat spam and urged that law enforcement authorities respect the right to freedom of expression when they crack down on Internet-related crimes.

Reuters contributed to this report.