Since the early days of the internet, it has fallen under control of ICANN, which in turn was bound by an agreement with the US Department of Commerce. As the internet grew bigger and more pervasive, intentional calls for severing the ties between ICANN and the US government grew stronger. Today, the US has ceded control over ICANN.
Instead of the United States governmentbeing the sole nation, there will now a be a system of global oversight, where the US is one of many nations overseeing the process which governs the internet and ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).
“ICANN is accountable to the world and that’s as it should be, since ICANN is a global international organization,” Paul Levins, executive officer and vice president of corporate affairs at ICANN, told InternetNews.com, “But don’t get me wrong, this is not Independence Day. We’ve been independent since we’ve been born, since 1998, when we were established as a non-profit organization.”
Under the previous agreement, ICANN was subject to yearly reviews by the Department of Commerce. From now on, a body of nations will review ICANN’s operations every three years. The US will be but one party in this multinational process.
“It’s a huge step forward with no more reviews by one entity, no more temporary endorsement of the model,” Levins said, “We’re now looking at a very firm declaration by ICANN and the US government that says this is the right model to manage this global resource on behalf of the globe and that’s a fantastic outcome.”
While I always found it morally rather odd that the US government had so much influence over the internet, the fact of the matter is that the US and ICANN have done quite a fine job of keeping the internet running and maintaining its openness. Making changes like this, while morally okay, might be practically a little less okay.
Time will tell if these changes will have any effect whatsoever on the internet.