In a move that has been pushed off for several years, and is seen as a threat to internet security – the Obama administration is moving forward to transferring control of the internet domain name system to an international non-profit.
The group, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), has long served as a contractor for many backend operations that keep the internet working. However, until a couple of years ago, ICANN was a U.S. organization. It was then that the Obama administration tasked them to develop an international multistakeholder model.
This would mean that countries with horrible records on internet censorship would now have authority over the internet access of every single American. The reason this is so concerning is because the control that is being handed over pertains making sure users can seamlessly search on the internet.
It was previously controlled by Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Now the Commerce Department is reviewing the plans put forth by ICANN to transfer that power.
One leading opponent of this is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who is demanding Congress vote on this issue before any approval is made. So far his efforts have failed. He additionally has suggested that the outgoing president of ICANN has had a conflict of interest.
It has been reported that the Obama administration and Congress have been watching this whole process closely, but there is no word on whether or not anyone will stop this extremely critical control swap from moving forward.
Steve Crocker who chairs ICANN’s board of directors had this to say:
“This proposal does not come as a surprise that requires a fresh start or a cold start and we fully expect that this will be viewed as 100 percent consistent with the criteria that was set out in advance and that which has been tracked all the way throughout the process.”
Here is how ICANN explains what they do:
To reach another person on the Internet you have to type an address into your computer — a name or a number. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world. Without that coordination, we wouldn’t have one global Internet.
In more technical terms, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) coordinates the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, which are key technical services critical to the continued operations of the Internet’s underlying address book, the Domain Name System (DNS). The IANAfunctions include: (1) the coordination of the assignment of technical protocol parameters including the management of the address and routing parameter area (ARPA) top-level domain; (2) the administration of certain responsibilities associated with Internet DNS root zone management such as generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domains; (3) the allocation of Internet numbering resources; and (4) other services. ICANN performs the IANA functions under a U.S. Government contract.
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