ICANN oversees the Domain Name System — such as “.com,” “.net” and “.org” — that allows computers to find each other in cyberspace. It is sanctioned by the United States government, which funded the Internet’s early development.

Some countries and activists argue that ICANN is too close to the United States and want the United Nations to take a greater role in regulating the Internet. For this reason a meeting took place on Friday….

“The United Nations would be a good platform for that, because it has legitimacy. The countries are all represented,” said Izzeldin Mohamed Osman, a computer science professor from the Sudan University of Science and Technology.

This week, about 200 diplomats, activists and representatives of companies like Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. met at the United Nations to share ideas on whether the Internet should be governed and, if so, how.

“The world has a common interest in ensuring the security and dependability of this new medium,” Annan said.

He met privately Friday with Paul Twomey, the chief executive of ICANN, who would not elaborate on their discussions.

The gathering grew from December’s U.N. World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva, where the world’s leaders failed to reach consensus on governing the Internet and punted the issue to a task force that is supposed to report to Annan in 2005.

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