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Learning English - Words in the News
30 September, 2005 - Published 12:49 GMT
Internet address argument
An internet screen

The US has again rejected handing over control of internet domain names such as dot com and dot org to a UN backed international body. Critics see this as keeping the governance of the internet in private US hands. This report from Julian Siddle:

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ICANN is a private company set up in the early days of the internet to assign domain names, such as dot com now used worldwide in internet addresses. At the time the internet was not global so it didn't seem to matter that this obscure US organisation had control over all addresses. But with global expansion this began to look increasingly unfair, as now demonstrated by one of the internet's largest user groups; internet pornographers have been demanding their own triple x address to make it easier for people to find internet porn. This move was blocked in the US courts after lobbying by right wing religious groups.

The UN believes that it should control allocation of the internet addresses and is organising a conference in Tunisia in November to discuss the issue. Many internet activists though see the spat over domain names as largely irrelevant, saying there are more pressing issues for the internet, such as to what extent it really is a development tool, as outlined in the UN millennium goals. Many also question why this UN conference is happening in a country like Tunisia where internet access is tightly controlled and where opponents of the government who've tried to use websites to get their views across have been imprisoned.

Julian Siddle, BBC Science

Listen to the words

set up
established, started

to assign
to decide who has what

not very well known

This move was blocked
The proposal was stopped by someone

when a group or organisation try to persuade politicians to act in a certain way

the right to make decisions about who should receive internet addresses

an argument about something that is not very serious

largely irrelevant
mostly unimportant and not useful

more pressing issues
more important topics

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