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,
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.
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,
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:
ICANN's decisions haven't been without controversy, however, and the U.S. had the option of offering the contract to another entity.
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.
Whether the transition will ultimately prove beneficial or detrimental likely won't be fully realized for some time.
...that You Never Heard About
from TheLastAmericanVagabond Website
Though Republican lawmakers have painted this moment in Internet history as 'doomsday,' and rallied a last ditch-effort to block it, at midnight on Saturday the U.S. government will cede control of the web's core naming directory to a multi-stakeholder nonprofit.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based group of international stakeholders will now control the functions of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which includes the database that translates website names into Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
The handover, hailed as,
And though a technical change that will not affect everyday users, a number of Republican lawmakers raised hell over the plan, including Sen. Ted Cruz, who called it a "giveaway" that would cause,
Republican attorneys general from Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Texas submitted a last-minute motion to block the plan, which was rejected by a Texas judge late Friday.
Rebuking those conservative claims, a coalition of Internet freedom groups including the Center for Democracy and Technology and Access Now, issued a statement in support ahead of the transition to Congress.
It read in part:
In a statement celebrating the change, ICANN board chair Stephen D. Crocker said,