Bill Clinton Speaks at ICANN in San Francisco

By Mathew Luschek
|  Thursday, Mar 17, 2011  |  Updated 3:15 PM PDT
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: (AFP-OUT) Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks during the closing plenary session of the annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on September 23, 2010 in New York City. President Obama was speaking to introduce First Lady Michelle Obama. The sixth annual meeting of the CGI gathers prominent individuals in politics, business, science, academics, religion and entertainment to discuss global issues such as climate change and the reconstruction of Haiti. The event, founded by Clinton after he left office, is held the same week as the General Assembly at the United Nations, when most world leaders are in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

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Former President Bill Clinton gave the keynote speech last night at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) conference held at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco.

All Things Digital explains, ICANN is the multinational, non-governmental organization that researches, debates and enforces decisions that affect how traffic gets sent around the pipes of the Internet.

For instance, making sure countries get the proper domain suffixes. Like, .us for the United States, and .ly for Lybia.

Clinton, referring to himself as “the president at the dawn of the Internet age," noted that when he was inaugurated in 1993, there were only 50 websites. When his term was up in 2001, there were 36 million.

He spoke of the importance of ICANN making sure universal access to a free internet is maintained.

“That’s why it’s important that you want the Internet to stay forever young,” said Clinton. “One hundred years from now, you want somebody in some godforsaken place that’s been beat down to be able to do what the kids in Cairo did.”

Later Clinton and ICANN President and CEO Rod Beckstorm answered pre-selected questions involving topics such as the controversial .xxx domain, and internet taxation in the e-commerce business.

In the end the former President's message was simple, “You have to be vigilant, because at some point all institutions are led by people more interested in maintaining the present than creating the future,” he said.

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