The United States government will relinquish all power over the Domain Naming System (DNS) by October 1, 2016. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will assume complete control over the DNS. A multilateral body will take complete control over the essential system that links every web address to servers using a unique set of numbers known as an IP address. Critics of the transfer claim it will make the American internet grid vulnerable to attacks and surveillance from foreign countries.
The agreement to make the transfer was made in 2014. On Tuesday the Obama administration stated that they believe ICANN is ready to assume control after working with the government for over 18 years to transfer control of the DNS from the U.S. government to a multi-national model. Obama hopes that relinquishing control of the DNS will foster international support for the system and prevent the American government from becoming responsible for governing the internet.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and several other prominent members of the Republican party have been vocal opponents of handing over control of the DNS. He fears that the system will be open to attack by foreign governments once it is no longer protected by the U.S. government. He wrote in a letter to commerce:
“The proposal will significantly increase the power of foreign governments over the Internet, expand ICANN’s historical core mission by creating a gateway to content regulation, and embolden [its] leadership to act without any real accountability,”
The letter was signed and endorsed by U.S. Senators James Lankford of Oklahoma and Mike Lee of Utah. The Senators noted fears of the company’s headquarters being relocated to a foreign country and then being subject to interference from that government. China was specifically cited as one of ICANN’s offices is located in the same building as Cyber space Administration of China, a government agency responsible for censoring China’s government.