EU Welcomes Auomony Plan for Internet Governance

The European Commission welcomed on Monday U.S. government moves to make the company that manages Internet domain names independent by

2009, but said it would monitor the process carefully.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which controls addresses including ".com" and country domain names such as ".cn" for China, now reports to the U.S. Commerce Department.

On Friday, the Commerce Department said it would retain oversight for three more years, renewing an agreement that was scheduled to expire last weekend.

But a lighter regime was introduced, with ICANN no longer having to file reports with the Commerce Department every six months or having its work prescribed for it, the European Commission said.

"A new and final chapter opened this weekend. We welcome that ICANN will be set free in a process over the next three years," Commission spokesman Martin Selmayr told a news briefing.

The Commission criticized ICANN's decision this year to reject a new .xxx Internet domain for pornography sites, saying that was U.S. political interference in the Web's governance.

The United States has fought off attempts to wrest control of the domain-name system from the Commerce Department.

U.S. control of ICANN had become a sticking point for countries such as Iran and Brazil, which argued it should be managed by the United Nations or another global body.

The United States argued that such a body would stifle innovation with red tape.

"The European Commission will follow closely ICANN's transition to full independence in the next three years," EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said in a statement.

"With our advice, we will contribute to this transition to ensure that it takes place transparently, reflecting the interests of industry and civil society alike," Reding said.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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