ICANN Is Preparing to Administer the Internet Without U.S. Supervision


ICANN is preparing to administer the internet without U.S. supervision. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit group based in California is set to assume all responsibility for tracking and handling World Wide Web naming domains and other internet polices. Its current contract with the Commerce Department is set to expire later this year and there is no plan to renew the oversight commitment.

The non-profit company oversees Internet domain names that end in .com, .gov, and .edu. Since 1998, ICANN has handled the labeling for the vast World Wide Web database and ensures internet traffic goes from the sender to the receiver without a problem. For those who send texts, email, or stream movies nothing will change.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.VA, found the move appropriate in promoting an open and free internet activities. ICANN preserves and advances a model of internet global governance. Politically, the move signifies the internet as worldwide and not solely controlled by U.S. with oversight from the Commerce Department.

Garth Bruen, a security fellow with the Digital Citizens Alliance, called the decision to stop U.S. oversight of ICANN hasty and politically motivated. He doubts the organization can operate without U.S. supervision. ICANN has made numerous errors in judgment and has not been a good steward for setting internet standards without Commerce Department oversight. He believes countries like China will continue to infiltrate the United States to hurt businesses with hackers and industrial espionage.

Fadi Chehade, president of ICANN, criticized the complaints concerning the transition. ICANN is preparing to administer the internet without U.S. supervision and he promises an inclusive, open process where nothing will jeopardize the stability and security of the World Wide Web.

Crucial international stakeholders around the world will meet on March 23rd to discuss the internet’s future in Singapore and suggest future policies. ICANN has invited government officials, civil leaders, the private sector, and other internet organizations to assist in developing the transition process. Chehade wants everyone to have a voice in the governance and management of the internet.

ICANN has drawn recent criticisms over how big American companies such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft that play a critical role in its function. After more than a decade, mounting pressure to relinquish the U.S. authority over web addresses and domain names was highlighted by NSA surveillance activities. Alhough the NSA has no connection to ICANN, the perception of U.S. involvement still exists.

Gene Kimmelman, president of Public Knowledge, wants internet access to be open. He also insists the U.S. continues its supervision of ICANN on how the World Wide Web is governed.

ICANN’s decisions have dominated internet policies since 1998. The naming fees provide the majority of ICANN’s revenues. The Commerce Department contract that is set to expire this year was a check against possible abuses. ICANN is preparing to administer the internet without U.S. supervision when its current contract with the Commerce Department expires and there is little to stop their upcoming independence.

By Brian T. Yates


Washington Post

New York Times


Digital Citizens Alliance

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