BRUSSELS (Reuters) – 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 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.

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