On Friday, a panel of Internet experts published a 199-page document on how the U.S. government should yield its direct control over the Internet’s names and addresses to a decentralized group.
The proposal, which had required months of debates, was the next logical step after U.S. Commerce Department’s 2014 announcement about the U.S. plans of ceding stewardship of ICANN, the non-for-profit organization that currently oversees the Internet’s addresses and top domains to a “network of interested parties.”
But the move was quite controversial in the U.S. because some GOP members argued that it may allow foreign countries to take over the Internet. Nevertheless, details on how ICANN would look and feel like were eagerly awaited across the globe.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages and supervises the database which contains the top-level domain name systems (DNS) such as .com and .net domains. The organization also approves the creation of new domains such as .org. and .eu, and controls the numeric addresses (IPs) associated with these domains.
A branch of ICANN called Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA) supervises the global IP address allocation. Since late 1990s ICANN was under the direct oversight of the U.S. government, but tech experts believe that introducing other actors in the scheme may make the Internet more censorship-proof.
ICANN is run by tech experts, scholars, businesses, federal representatives, human rights advocacy groups, and private users. According to the new proposal, ICANN should create a subsidiary that would take care of the Internet’s names and addresses. The new subsidiary will be controlled by ICANN rather than the U.S. government.
Plus, a specific community would be able to signal anything unusual in the process of allocating names and IP addresses, Alissa Cooper, one of the engineers involved in the project explained.
Ms. Cooper believes that decentralizing ICANN and moving responsability in the hands of multiple stakeholders would prevent a party from taking over the Internet.
“The proposal does a good job of maintaining the aspects of the current system that have been working well and carrying them forward to the future,”
After the transition is made, however, ICANN’s headquarters would stay in California. According to the proponents, the U.S. government should transfer its role in the Internet name and addresses allocation business to ICANN itself, which is run by many people and experts of various domains, but excludes any governments or governmental organizations.
The transition is slated to occur by mid-2016, while the proposal is open for public comment until Sept. 8.
Image Source: Ustr.gov