What it means for the U.S. to hand over Internet governance to the world

The reaction has been mostly positive to news that the U.S. government will relinquish its oversight of the organization that manages the Internet architecture and naming system.

But there has been some blow back from conservatives and others who say that a more international approach to Internet governance could result in ceding too much control to governments that might try to repress or control the Internet.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich sounded the alarm, tweeting that “every American should worry about Obama giving up control of the Internet to an undefined group. This is very, very dangerous.”

Former Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) said that the decision was “red meat for the base,” Politico reported.

However, key federal lawmakers of both parties as well as tech firms such as Yahoo and Cisco have supported the move.

Late Friday, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, the Commerce Department agency that has a contract with ICANN to manage the Internet’s naming system, said it would hand over its function to the “global Internet community.” The U.S. government’s contract with ICANN is set to expire in September 2015, reports the Wall Street Journal, which has a good primer on what the decision means.

Although the U.S. rarely intervened in ICANN, there was a possibility that it could. The move is a way for the U.S. to reassure companies and governments in the wake of the national security surveillance disclosures that the oversight of the Internet architecture will not be in U.S. hands, the Journal said.

Critics raise the specter of a United Nations-style governance of the Internet, which some countries have advocated for. But U.S. government officials have rejected that model or a system that replaces the U.S. with another government.

In a statement to Silicon Beat, Lawrence E. Stricking, the assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator, said:

NTIA has made it clear that it will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an inter-governmental organization solution.   Transitioning the stewardship of key Internet domain name functions to the global community of Internet stakeholders will help preserve the stability and security of the Domain Name System, upon which the Internet relies.


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  • We certainly don’t want countries such as Russia, China, and Iran have any authority over the Internet.

  • ellafino

    How does turning over management of the domain naming system constitute giving up control of the internet? Countries have the ability to restrict internet access to their citizens no matter who controls ICANN.

  • noname_noslogan

    The question for Americans and America is, how does handing over ANY control that it currently has, benefit America and Americans?

    The truth is, this handing over of any power to other countries, be it naming rights or anything else, is a net LOSE for America.

    And these globalists know it.

  • David Alan Gay

    If Yahoo and Cisco are backing this, we have nothing to worry about. Business will not allow anything to interfere in a free and open environment like the Internet.