Row over American control of the net avoided

Tunis : A potentially damaging rift over American control of the Internet was averted hours before a key summit aimed at helping poor countries embrace the net began.

The three-day World Summit on the Internet Society (WSIS) opened in Tunisia, with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan joining 50 government leaders and about 10,000 participants.

A deal was struck to resolve the long running row late on Tuesday night when key clauses on the governing of the internet were finally agreed on - however they still mean that the US controls the web.

These clauses will now be put to the delegates taking part in the WSIS conference for endorsement.

However, the US will still retain overall control over the internet.

The talks only led to a proposal for the creation of an Intergovernmental Forum (IGF) which will meet to discuss all internet related issues, including spam and cyber crime.

There has been a long running row over America’s insistence on controlling the private organisation (ICANN) which currently looks after the infrastructure of the internet.

The non-profit group polices things like domain names and manages the way in which email servers and web browsers direct traffic around the web.

Poorer countries have argued that control over the internet should be spread out, and they feel left out of the process.