A conference on the future of the internet is underway in Tunisia. The UN-organised World Summit on the Information Society is unprecedented in scale, bringing together thousands of delegates from 170 countries. It was opened by Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. He said he hoped the meeting would mark the beginning of a process where poor countries would have the access to information technology enjoyed by rich nations.
His administration has been hit by criticism over alleged violations of freedom of expression, including the blocking of opposition websites. Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Nobel Prize winner, voiced concerns about various governments around the world controlling the internet. There has also been controversy over whether the United States should remain in control of how the worldwide web is run. Negotiators at the summit say the US will retain oversight of the domain name system that guides online traffic.