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Summary:

The NTIA made a surprising announcement Friday when it said it might relinquish control of the contract that is awarded to ICANN for managing what acts as an address book for the internet.

Internet.com
photo: Flickr/dantc

The U.S. Department of Commerce is apparently seeking alternative bids for control of the domain name system registry that acts as the address book for the entire web. Inside the Department of Commerce is the National Telecommunication Industry Association (NTIA), which happens to have purview over some spectrum assets, a few agencies spending federal money on broadband and the contract for the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

That contract currently is managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN), but it is set to expire in September 2015. And apparently the NTIA doesn’t want to oversee that contract involving the management of IANA anymore. In a press conference Friday, NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling said, “NTIA is asking ICANN to convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the current role played by NTIA.”

While a bit of a surprise, the move makes sense given that for years, the U.S. involvement in ICANN has caused some consternation among other countries, and recently the call to make ICANN more independent from the U.S. have only grown.

In the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations showing that the U.S. National Security Agency has been spying on world leaders, U.S. citizens and hacking into private companies to get access to their networks, world leaders have been calling on the U.S. to relinquish control over the internet.

So what’s next for control of the internet if the NTIA doesn’t control that contract? That’s going to be the stuff of discussion over the next year and half as ICANN and stakeholders discuss how the internet should be governed. Thankfully, many stakeholders have started that discussion already.

  1. Malcolm Lloyd Friday, March 14, 2014

    While I’m not keen on the spying, thinking about the UK’s internet policies of late doesn’t give me much fate in the freedom of the internet when controlled by someone other than the USA either. Frankly, I think the devil you know might be a better case in this situation.

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    1. Well put. Just another pro-American decision of our president.

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  2. This reminds me when another President gave away the Panama Canal. I fear that before too long after this goes in effect the costs of registering and maintaining a domain name will rise precipitously. I think it’s just another intentional maneuver to redistribute American power and resources. I’m mostly concerned for small/micro entrepreneurs when the cost of annual renewal goes into the hundreds and thousands of dollars….couldn’t imagine a better way to screw over the American middle and lower classes!!

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  3. Given net neutrality is such a conerstone, why should one country, particularly one which has no issues trespassing on the rights my country has provided, have control ???

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    1. gosh Paul, why don’t you invent your own Internet then?

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  4. Dr. Tommi Chen Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    Not the right time. I’m from Asia but feels many countries are not matured enough to handle governance of the internet. Their philosophy is control. While oversight by a single country sounds scary, maintaining status quo is the best way for now. After all, the US has shown great sense of awareness in their light touch approach. I can’t imagine the UN or ITU getting involved. The latter will turn the internet back to the old telco model, meaning the end of the internet as we know it.

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