internet

On Saturday, the United States ceded oversight of one of the Internet’s most basic and fundamental functions — the so-called “root zone,” which governs new domain names and addresses — handing it over to a small non-profit group by allowing a 47-year contract to expire.

For decades, the U.S. Commerce Department held a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) — whose executives and board of directors must now report to an Internet “stakeholder community,” loosely comprised of academics, activists, engineers, government officials, and corporate interests.

In theory, this advisory panel could revoke ICANN’s authority entirely should it not live up to expectations — but all actions “are supposed to be done by consensus.”

With the lapse of the contract, the U.S. fulfilled its objective to “privatize” the Internet — something proponents claim would help bolster its integrity around the world. As the Internet rapidly expanded around the planet, many felt U.S. oversight anachronistic.

“This transition was envisioned 18 years ago,” said Stephen Crocker, board chairman of ICANN and an engineer who helped develop early Internet protocols, in a statement cited by AFP, “yet it was the tireless work of the global Internet community, which drafted the final proposal, that made this a reality.

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“This community validated the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. It has shown that a governance model defined by the inclusion of all voices, including business, academics, technical experts, civil society, governments and many others is the best way to assure that the Internet of tomorrow remains as free, open and accessible as the Internet of today.”

But the move didn’t come without vehement opposition, including from some U.S. lawmakers who felt giving up oversight could permit less scrupulous regimes to seize total or partial control of this vital Internet function — with potentially disastrous results.

Attorneys general from Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Nevada staged a last-minute effort to intervene, by requesting a temporary restraining order which was heard in federal court in Texas on Friday. Despite their understandable fears the contract lapse would put the U.S. and the Internet in uncharted territory — and could threaten the integrity of .gov addresses and more — the judge denied their request.

Opposition to handing oversight to ICANN has largely, but not entirely, come from the GOP. Sen. Ted Cruz asserted this week after a failed attempt to halt the move by adding legislation to a funding measure,

“President Obama intends to give increased control of the Internet to authoritarian regimes like China, Russia, and Iran. Like Jimmy Carter gave away the Panama Canal, Obama is giving away the Internet.”

Technical experts say it isn’t as simple as ‘giving away’ the Internet, since the U.S. didn’t ‘own’ it in the first place; but placing control of the root zone — officially, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) — in the hands of ICANN does present pertinent questions.

As the Chicago Tribune reports:

“While the Internet itself was designed to function without a central authority, ICANN has played a small but crucial role since its founding in 1998 at the urging of the Clinton administration, replacing a program run under the authority of the Defense Department. ICANN oversees the process of assigning domain names and the underlying Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses, allowing users and anyone on the Internet to navigate to sites such as Washingtonpost.com. Private companies called registrars and approved by ICANN – such as GoDaddy.com or Name.com – sell the domain names to companies or individuals.”

ICANN’s decisions haven’t been without controversy, however, and the U.S. had the option of offering the contract to another entity.

“Somebody has to be responsible for this. This is a common space,” explained Garth Bruen, a cybersecurity expert who sits on an ICANN advisory board, as quoted by the Tribune. “There’s no checks and balances anymore. . . . Before, there was a threat of accountability.”

And as The Economist noted, whoever controls the Internet’s “address book” also holds the power to censor — any domain name can be revoked and the website no longer found.

Critics have also noted the eagerness of proponents of the transition, such as notorious globalist George Soros, as an indicator ceding control should be considered more carefully — or at least delayed significantly to give the American public some say in the matter.

Still, experts say such fears are wildly overblown.

“There is absolutely no way that this is going to imperil freedoms,” asserted Matthew Shears, director of Global Internet Policy for the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington-based advocacy group largely supported by the tech industry, per the Tribune. “There is absolutely no way that this is going to allow Russia or Iran or anybody to take control of the Internet. This has nothing to do with that.”

Whether the transition will ultimately prove beneficial or detrimental likely won’t be fully realized for some time.

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Claire Bernish began writing as an independent, investigative journalist in 2015, with works published and republished around the world. Not one to hold back, Claire’s particular areas of interest include U.S. foreign policy, analysis of international affairs, and everything pertaining to transparency and thwarting censorship. To keep up with the latest uncensored news, follow her on Facebook or Twitter: @Subversive_Pen.
  • I, for one, did notice the monopoly takeover of our internet. If my memory serves correctly, it started to be noticed between 2007 and 2009. I began hosting political sites about that era and saw how the sites suddenly were disappearing from the search engines. Nowadays, 2017, only an unlearned person or one that does little aside from games and gossip and other folly, one would have to be blind not to see the manipulation of the minds of the masses. Yahoo, for instance, was found guilty of auto-comment bots that are triggered by keywords in your or my comments on those so-called “news” sites (should they be contrary to the monopoly viewpoint), yet where do we go for a safe haven when our only choices are an illusion? For instance, in the U.S. we have Democrat and Republican, macintosh and microsoft, bestbuy or walmart, burger king or mcdonald’s, etc. and any other business is tolerated with a shelf-life of a few years before they disappear. Right now I find myself stuck between two choices for internet which is time warner and at&t. Interestingly we now see the ridiculous prices these monopolies are pilfering/profiteering from us with prices upward to $100/month for their services (remember when it was $7/month?). Monopolies have special powers given to them; for instance Time Warner has morphed into Spectrum and that’s what they are called now (wouldn’t it be a privilege to be able to simply change your name any time you find yourself in a rut?). At one time I found one of my political websites on 13 simultaneous BLACKLISTS! Now I can go into great detail of how I at one time obtained the ability to use the monopolies to effectuate a man-in-the-middle observance of what was happening and how I know that I know we have a huge problem but this is not the place for that information. Suffice to say, If you don’t think being blacklisted doesn’t affect you, try it. Step out of the box and see what happens…then draw a conclusion (using your own senses to learn of truisms). Our monopolies took over our polity, our judiciary, our children’s curriculum (are they still brainwashing those kids with the bait and switch programming of “checks and balances” like they did my generation?), and more. When I was young it was “taught” to us that monopolies weren’t a part of our economic makeup….and voila, now it’s all we see. As for this just-us system as an example, I leave you with http://municipal-court.ddns.net and proof of our economic takeover (looting) I leave you with http://usdebtclock.org Now where are our brave men and women? Oh that’s right, overseas, out of sight leaving our nation with no hope. Sad state of affairs when we could have chosen to become a model nation to the world, instead the capitalists made us to be reviled.

  • Hi, thanks for your comment. Can you tell me something? I’ve dabbled in creating a search engine of my own but so far have done nothing but fail over and over. My question to you is, How can one “see” the whole net without a search engine that allows it? What I mean is, we know about Tor and proxies and the ilk but what good are they unless you already know what you are looking for? The sites that get blacklisted into obscurity into the dark web and the deep web are what I’m wanting. My motive is not nefarious but because I would sincerely like the other side of this topic or that topic, as I’m full of the monopoly viewpoint already (grade school was enough actually). If you know of something that would further my endeavor I’d very much appreciate hearing from you. I can be reached at [email protected] or by calling (937) 718-3586 Anything you might avail is much appreciated.