USA Giving Away Governing Control of the Internet

September 28, 2015 - 2 minutes read

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The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an American-controlled non-profit entity that manages the names and addresses of websites. Since 1998, ICANN has been the sole holder of a contract to administer and manage domain names. It is led by a consortium of technology experts, academics, advocates, government and private industry representatives, and end users.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced plans to transfer control of the contract from the United States to international interests. Some U.S. government officials, mainly from the Republican party, vocalized concerns that the move could destabilize the Internet by allowing other nations to take control of its numbering and naming system.

Recently, a collective of international Internet authorities released a collaborative proposal that outlined a strategy for the United States to relinquish its control of Internet domains without jeopardizing the stability of the World Wide Web. The proposal was met with praise in many corners, with Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA) network engineer Alissa Cooper telling the Reuters news agency that “the proposal roots the accountability responsibility in the various stakeholder communities,” which is “one of the defenses against capture by any single constituency.” Cooper also said that “the proposal does a good job of maintaining the aspects of the current system that have been working well and carrying them forward to the future.”

The tech industry has been eagerly following developments in the story ever since the USDoC made its initial announcement. For iPhone app developers, the proposal would provide continuity and stability, preventing major disruptions to the system that is currently in place while mitigating risks.

App developers in Toronto and around the world could soon find themselves in a position to participate in the administration of Internet domain names. Under the proposal, ICANN itself would assume managing control from the U.S. government and create a subsidiary with its own internal controls that would assume technical responsibilities under a separate contract with ICANN.

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