Oh, the Internet? We Can Handle It, EU Says

     (CN) - Citing data breaches and "large-scale Internet surveillance" by the United States, the European Commission announced plans to become a major player in governing the World Wide Web.
     "The next two years will be critical in redrawing the global map of Internet governance," Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said in a statement Wednesday. "Europe must contribute to a credible way forward for global internet governance. Europe must play a strong role in defining what the net of the future looks like."
     That strong role includes pushing for the globalization of ICANN, a private-sector nonprofit that succeeded the U.S. government in 1998 as the overseer of IP addresses and domain names.
     The commission also called for a stronger global Internet governance forum, and plans to launch the Global Internet Policy Observatory to create transparency on the Web. The plan would keep the Internet open, safe and unfragmented, without turning to a U.N.-type governing body.
     "Some are calling for the International Telecommunications Union to take control of key Internet functions," Kroes said. "I agree that governments have a crucial role to play, but top-down approaches are not the right answer. We must strengthen the multi-stakeholder model to preserve the Internet as a fast engine for innovation."
     Kroes' remarks come ahead of three high-profile Internet conferences this year, including Netmundial in April, the Internet Governance Forum in August, and High-Level ICANN meetings throughout 2014.
     The commission said Wednesday's announcement is the foundation for the EU's position in these negotiations, which will the European Parliament and European Council will flesh out going forward.
     The EU's regulatory body also noted that "recent revelations of large-scale surveillance have called into question the stewardship of the U.S. when it comes to Internet governance." The current U.S.-centric model of governing the Web requires an "honest broker" to help transition the Internet into a more global model, the commission said.