The U.S. government has reneged on its promise to relinquish control of the Internet. Despite its previous agreement to do so, the U.S. government renegotiated its predetermined timeline, deciding to maintain its supervision for “at least” another year.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, serves as the not-for-profit organization responsible for the administration of the Internet’s domain-name system. Since its creation in 1998, ICANN has operated under the jurisdiction of the United States Commerce Department, but earlier in August, the organization released a proposal “detailing plans to be operated by the ‘global internet community.‘” Those plans, it seems, have been put on hold.
Citing unpreparedness by the aforementioned global community, the American government has decided to renew its contract with ICANN for a year, though the Commerce Department still has pretty significant wiggle room — if they deem it inappropriate to initiate a full transition, the department has the option of extending their contract by up to three more years.
In a blog post detailing the decision, Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence Strickling wrote, “It has become increasingly apparent over the last few months that the community needs time to complete its work, have the plan reviewed by the U.S. government and then implement it if it is approved.”
ICANN, however, seems eager to move out of the shadow of the US government. As per the Wall Street Journal’s report, the organization’s chief executive, Fadi Chehadé, has long called for ICANN’s independence. In 2013, the Journal reports, Chehadé “praised Brazil’s call for the U.S. to relinquish oversight of the agency in the wake of disclosures that the National Security Agency monitored Brazil’s leaders and businesses online.”
Still, American representatives insist that it is more important for the transition to be completed responsibly, even if it means taking more time. In a statement, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, along with Reps. Greg Walden and John Shimkus noted, “The administration is recognizing, as it should, that it is more important to get this issue right than it is to simply get it done.”
So hold on just a bit longer, folks. Uncle Sam is still the big dog in play when it comes to Internet oversight.