There has been talk for quite some time about letting the Internet become independent from U.S. control under the organization Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or better known as ICANN. Specifically, ICANN oversees the functions of the Domain Name System (DNS) which is commonly thought of as “the phone book of the internet” (ICANN 2011). Originally, ICANN functioned as a non-profit organization under the IANA contract with the U.S. Government’s Commerce Department. However, talk of releasing it has come to an end and as of Oct 1. 2016, the proposed act was carried out and the internet officially has been released from U.S. government control to the Global International Community, most likely being the United Nations.
For those in opposition of the release of ICANN, their main concern is for what this means in regards to censorship. Prior to the exchange, as noted above, ICANN functioned under the contract and influence of the U.S. Government. And with that, control of the Internet was thought to be in “good hands”. “Giving up control” of the internet, as the Republican Party likes to phrase it, would be equivalent to giving up the freedom Americans have to post anything and see anything they want on the web. Now, they believe that autocratic regimes will be able to easily control and limit what is posted on the internet. Additionally, with ICANN supposedly being organized under the United Nations, such as set up is seen as making it even more accessible for authoritative countries to impose their power and control over the content on the web. Below is a Tweet that was sent out by Ted Cruz in disapproval of President Obama’s proposal to disband U.S. authority of the internet.
On the other hand, people, especially those that identify with the Democratic Party, are in favor of giving independence to ICANN and see it as a step in the right direction toward giving other countries more of a say in how the Internet is governed. It would be an inevitable step toward globalization. They argue that ICANN had little if any authority over censoring the internet prior to the termination of the contract. They advocate that domains such as .org, .com and .net are not governed by ICANN but are actually run by a number of U.S. organizations (David Kravets 2016). In other words, whether ICANN is independent of the U.S. or not will not have an effect on the ability of a country to seize control over many of the domains of the internet. Additionally, supporters of the exchange say that ICANN has always been a global organization, seeing as they have nearly 111 countries included in their representation (Katherine Maher 2014), so once again there would be no change in the way our current system is governed.
While both sides have very convincing evidence for their concerns about the transfer, or lack thereof, the biggest question I am left pondering is why would our government want to terminate the contract with ICANN if they advocate that doing such a thing would not change the way our current system operates? The claims they make are very contradictory in the sense that on one end they say that this switch would invite other countries to take part in the functions of the internet, but on the other end they advocate and provide evidence of the the notion that ICANN already operates as a global system so no drastic changes would take shape.
I am interested in what my fellow bloggers have to say about the switch. Do you think it will have an impact on our freedom over the internet, or do you think that the system will continue to run the same way it always has? Additionally, why do you think supporters of the exchange are advocating two contradictory themes?
Kravets, D. (2016, September 30). Y2K 2.0: Is the US government set to “give away the Internet” Saturday? [Update]. Retrieved October 02, 2016, from http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/09/y2k-2-0-is-the-us-government-set-to-give-away-the-internet-saturday/
Maher, K. (2014, March 19). No, the U.S. Isn’t ‘Giving Up Control’ of the Internet Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/03/control-of-the-internet-104830#ixzz4LySrx0z9
What ICANN Does and Doesn’t Do. (May). Retrieved 2011.