The debate over the role of governments within the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has taken a new twist after Hamadoun Touré, secretary general of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), labeled the ICANN Government Advisory Committee as "cosmetic."
The GAC is merely advisory, and ICANN may choose to take the advice or not, Touré noted at a public meeting in Cairo.
"The structure is weak, and I have discussed this with GAC Chairman Janis Kirklins before," he added.
With ICANN's claim that it is inclusive, Touré said, governments should be able to participate on equal footing as other ICANN constituencies.
But Kirklins defended the structure of the GAC, saying that -- as a multistakeholder forum -- it is different from the ITU, where governments call the shots.
"ICANN and ITU are complimentary; the two organizations must work together," Touré said. "ITU is not concerned with implementation and deployment of technology, just the coordination."
Touré equated the relationship between ICANN and ITU to a difficult marriage where the spouses must live together and raise a family.
"Countries will never fight terrorism if we do not have an effective way of tracing back Internet Protocol," Touré noted. "The problem is that we are not fighting cyberterrorism in a coordinated way, while the cybercriminals are well-organized."
Meanwhile, the GAC has formed a committee to discuss its role within ICANN, said Maimouna Diop, director of ICT with the Senegalese Infrastructure and Telecommunication Ministry.
"It is important that we find a way to involve government without requiring government officials to apply for the ICANN fellowship," Diop said. "We must find a way to involve government officials from developing countries."