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Why is ICANN rushing its 'UN 'net security council'? So it can be announced at Davos

Fascinating tale of world elites, anti-NSA rumblings and the web's future

Save the date? A date involving the business leaders of the world?

The organizers have not mentioned any specific activity planned for January but as the call then makes clear, plans have been in place for some time to hold the council's first meeting on 19 January.

As Chehade's vice-president at ICANN – co-opted to be the initiative's "secretariat" – then outlines, they have had two offers from two governments to run the event: one from the Italian government offering to host it in Rome (the Italian government currently holds the European Presidency); and one from the Swiss government, offering to hold it in Geneva.

As the discussion continues, it becomes clear that the 19 January date exists for but a single reason: that the powerful World Economic Forum meets in Davos, Switzerland, between 21 and 24 January.

The importance of the Davos meeting even causes Chehade to ask the initiative's staff to go back to the Swiss government and ask them if they would consider hosting the council meeting in Zurich rather than Geneva – because it is closer to Davos.

Davos is an annual meeting of global political and business elites. Last year Chehade attended, highlighting a study commissioned by ICANN called Greasing the Wheels of the Internet Economy. He wrote a blog post about Davos, and appeared in a number of media outlets talking about the future of the internet.

It was also at Davos that Chehade started discussions with the World Economic Forum to get involved in internet governance issues, eventually bringing them on to launch the NetMundial Initiative, the first time around, in August.

The appearance of the Forum has been a cause of consternation for many in the internet governance world concerned that its elitist attitude is the diametric opposite to the "multi-stakeholder model" that allows for open collaboration between people from all parts of society, and which has been behind the internet's success.

In contrast, the World Economic Forum and its Davos annual meeting is invite only. Even with an invite, tickets cost $20,000 and accommodation starts at $600 a night. The entire event is built around exclusivity with colored passes providing access to different parts of the convention center.

Comment: Of mice and men

And it is at Davos this year that Forum founder and chairman Klaus Schwab is expected to announce a series of partnerships between government and business that promote the idea of a borderless internet built around the multi-stakeholder model.

ICANN wants to be on that list, with its CEO proudly revealing his initiative in front of the world's business elite. It will be quite a moment for this man of humble beginnings.

It's just a shame that when he takes the stage in Davos, Chehade will have to somehow put out of his mind all the objections from the internet's technical bodies, civil society, and the International Chamber of Commerce, and gloss over the multiple refusals to take seats on the very council he developed. ®

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