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US May Cede Control of the Internet Domain System

On March 14, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the US government will not renew its contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to operate the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions.  ICANN is the nonprofit organization that manages the Internet’s address system.  The US is consciously relinquishing control over certain technical aspects of the Internet by not renewing ICANN contract, which expires in September of 2015.

The US has maintained a central role over ICANN since it was originally developed in 1998, but officials at NTIA argue US oversight was always intended to be temporary. ICANN will now meet with businesses, civil society organizations, and technical experts of the global Internet community to develop a transition plan that will allow the global internet community to govern and maintain the internally used database of domain names and addresses. ICANN will consider the views of governments, businesses, and nonprofits to establish this new system.

Many business entities, consumer advocacy groups, and members of Congress are concerned with this change, warning that by giving up control the US will open the door to regulation by other countries or international organizations who might limit the free flow of information and ideas. Placed in the wrong hands, they argue, ICANN could be used to silence controversial speech or limit global innovation.

The Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee hosted a panel on April 11 to discuss the NTIA’s announcement. The panel included the vice president of ICANN as well as several Internet policy officials within the US government and from the private sector.

On Thursday, April 10, the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee voted to stop the administration’s plan and passed H.R. 4342, the Domain Openness through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act, along party lines. The bill would force the NTIA to delay the transition for up to a year until the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports to Congress on the potential outcomes of the changes. Some Democrats in the House are in favor of requesting a GAO report. However, they will not support the bill if the administration’s final decision is forcibly tied to the GAO’s findings. 

Tags from the Community


I am against of this. The Internet Domain System must not be controlled by US.

What will happen then if the have all the authority to suspend any domains? It's like revoking our internet freedom. They can easily closed any domain they don't like.


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