very, very, very more internet users in Asia

Nitin Desai, the chair of the Internet Governance Forum at the United Nations, says there are “…concerns over regulation as the internet, telephony and commerce come together.”

“If I look at the internet in five years from now there are going to be very, very, very more internet users in Asia than Europe or America.

“There will be more Chinese web pages than English pages.

“The types of uses for the internet in India and China are very different from western countries – they are not commerce or media; they are essentially public service applications.”

The internet was increasingly being shaped by companies and organisations at the “edges” and not by government, public sector bodies and regulators, he said.

This was concerning some countries who wanted more involvement in the development of the net.

“These are the reasons these entities – government and private sector – feel they need to be reassured that the system they are relying on is secure, safe and reliable – that they cannot be suddenly thrown out of that system by some attack,” said Mr Desai.

He said the Chinese government was concerned that users still had to type webpage addresses using Latin characters even when the pages were in Chinese.

“I think this is one of the key issues and if we don’t address it with sufficient vigour we will get a Balkanisation of the net.”

“There’s a point at which the Chinese will say ‘We have to have domain names in Chinese characters’ and they will set up an independent system.