US plans to hand over Internet control to global independence


American center for Internet oversight

The United States will hand over government control of administration of the Internet, bowing to pressures to globalize the management of the networks that connect billions of people around the world in a move meant to ease fears following last year’s revelations of NSA spying.

U.S. officials on Friday announced plans to relinquish its oversight role over the group that manages the Web’s critical infrastructure, said Lawrence Strickling, the head of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration at the Commerce Department.

The transition will come in 2015, when Commerce contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers expires next year. But the announcement comes with a major caveat: As part of the transition, an independent, international oversight authority must be established so as to earn the trust of the world, Strickling said.

ICANN, the California-based nonprofit that coordinates the Web’s various systems of identifiers, has been pushing for increased global participation in the administration of the Internet, particularly since Edward Snowden’s leak of thousands of classified NSA documents last summer revealed the U.S. had been snooping on foreign nationals and governments…

But not everyone welcomed the news, particularly business leaders and others who were glad to accept tight U.S. control on the Internet’s administration as it ensured the Web operated smoothly and openly…

Yup. And Mussolini made the trains run on time in Fascist Italy.

Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, warned that without U.S. oversight, the Web may not hold together as a single entity.

“The world could be faced with a splintered Internet that would stifle innovation, commerce, and the free flow and diversity of ideas that are bedrock tenets of world’s biggest economic engine,” Castro wrote in an op-ed Friday.

“It is too important to get wrong,” he said. “And if the Obama Administration gives away its oversight of the Internet, it will be gone forever.”

Daniel Castro’s argument is nothing new. It is advanced by many American geeks and pundits every time the question of globalizing management of the Web comes up, every time the ICANN contract comes up for renewal.

What’s changed is that we know now that our government has handed oversight of the Internet to the NSA.

UPDATE: the most prominent, broadest body already established to globalize, democratize Internet management is Global Commission on Internet Governance. Useful article at GigaOm.

2 thoughts on “US plans to hand over Internet control to global independence

  1. drugsandotherthings says:

    I have VERY mixed feelings about this.

    For all their faux outrage- much of the puplic global government outrage over the NSA was little more then propaganda…or jealousy. Many knew, and participated in what was happening, while many others were jealous they did not have the ability to do the same.

    And while I think much of the EU tends to have far better privacy protection- from corporations, then the US, there are also many other nations to be considdered- china, russia, australia, etc.

    And I think that the US’s enshrinement of “freedom of speech” has been a powerful, if at times controversial and even distasteful part of the internet- it’s importance can not be overlooked. Many of the major nations who stand to play a major role in this are , shall we say, not so respectful of dissenting or controversial content. Just look at the web filtering rules in our pareent country- the UK, and recent proposals there to ban “unsavory” (rather then illegal,) content.

    Personally I think the risk to free speech and dissent far outweighs any (I would say foolishly) perceived security from government spying.

  2. Pedant says:

    Re: Mussolini making the trains run on time in Fascist Italy, see http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/it-trains-ran-on-time.htm – which concludes: “Mussolini’s railway operations improved, not as a result of Facist efficiency in organizing the railways, but as a result of Facist brutality in suppressing striking rail workers.” See also http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RepressiveButEfficient?from=Main.TheTrainsRunOnTime

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