US Gov announces plans to relinquish control over internet

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The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) made an announcement on Friday that it is transitioning the function to the “global Internet community” and will give up its oversight role when the current contract with Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) expires in fall 2015.

The move will effectively pull the US government out of the process leaving ICANN and its partners running the show.

“NTIA is asking ICANN to convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the current role played by NTIA,” said Administrator Larry Strickling in a press release.

“The timing is right to start the transition process. We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan.”

Since 1998 ICANN, specifically the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) wing, is chiefly responsible for administering the DNS “domain name” mechanism of the Internet under which domain names, such as Techienews.co.uk, are mapped to addresses understandable by computers.

NTIA has confirmed that in the development of this proposal, ICANN will be working collaboratively with the other interested parties and global stakeholders, including the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the Internet Society (ISOC), the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs).

“We thank the U.S. government for its stewardship, for its guidance over the years, and we thank them today for trusting the global community to replace their stewardship with the appropriate accountability mechanisms,” said ICANN President Fadi Chehade, who joined Strickling on the call.

Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, noted the connection between NSA revelations by Edward Snowden and Internet governance and warned that ICANN would not be held accountable without U.S. control.

However, an NTIA official denied this move to be a reaction to the Snowden revelations and pointed out that the NTIA and ICANN partnership was always envisioned as temporary.