U.S. To Give Up Control Over Internet

U.S. to relinquish remaining control over the Internet

By Craig Timberg, Published: March 14

U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet, a move that pleased international critics but alarmed some business leaders and others who rely on the smooth functioning of the Web.

Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash last year to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance.

The change would end the long-running contract between the Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based nonprofit group. That contract is set to expire next year but could be extended if the transition plan is not complete.

“We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan,” Lawrence E. Strickling, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, said in a statement.

The announcement received a passionate response, with some groups quickly embracing the change and others blasting it.

In a statement, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) called the move “consistent with other efforts the U.S. and our allies are making to promote a free and open Internet, and to preserve and advance the current multi-stakeholder model of global Internet governance.”

But former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) tweeted: “What is the global internet community that Obama wants to turn the internet over to? This risks foreign dictatorships defining the internet.”

The practical consequences of the decision were harder to immediately discern, especially with the details of the transition not yet clear. Politically, the move could alleviate rising global concerns that the United States essentially controls the Web and takes advantage of its oversight position to help spy on the rest of the world.

U.S. officials set several conditions and an indeterminate timeline for the transition from federal government authority, saying a new oversight system must be developed and win the trust of crucial stakeholders around the world. An international meeting to discuss the future of Internet is scheduled to start on March 23 in Singapore.

The move’s critics called the decision hasty and politically tinged, and voiced significant doubts about the fitness of ICANN to operate without U.S. oversight and beyond the bounds of U.S. law.

“This is a purely political bone that the U.S. is throwing,” said Garth Bruen, a security fellow at the Digital Citizens Alliance, a Washington-based advocacy group that combats online crime. “ICANN has made a lot of mistakes, and ICANN has not really been a good steward.”

Business groups and some others have long complained that ICANN’s decision-making was dominated by the interests of the industry that sells domain names and whose fees provide the vast majority of ICANN’s revenue. The U.S. government contract was a modest check against such abuses, critics said.

“It’s inconceivable that ICANN can be accountable to the whole world. That’s the equivalent of being accountable to no one,” said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, a trade group representing major Internet commerce businesses.

U.S. officials said their decision had nothing to do with the NSA spying revelations and the worldwide controversy they sparked, saying there had been plans since ICANN’s creation in 1998 to eventually migrate it to international control.

“The timing is now right to start this transition both because ICANN as an organization has matured, and international support continues to grow for the multistakeholder model of Internet governance,” Strickling said in a statement.

Although ICANN is based in Southern California, governments worldwide have a say in the group’s decisions through an oversight body. ICANN in 2009 made an “Affirmation of Commitments” to the Commerce Department that covers several key issues.

Fadi Chehade, president of ICANN, disputed many of the complaints about the transition plan and promised an open, inclusive process to find a new international oversight structure for the group.

“Nothing will be done in any way to jeopardize the security and stability of the Internet,” he said.

The United States has long maintained authority over elements of the Internet, which grew from a Defense Department program that started in the 1960s. The relationship between the United States and ICANN has drawn wider international criticism in recent years, in part because big American companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft play such a central role in the Internet’s worldwide functioning. The NSA revelations exacerbated those concerns.

Stand Up and Be Counted

My fellow Americans and Friends; on Tuesday, November 6th we stand to either choose a new President or to give 4 more years to the incumbent.  The choice is up to you and the Electoral College.  This is a bit astray from Networking, but every bit as important in my book.  I would ask you to give great thought towards your choice and truly research that which is best for the country, as a whole.

If you should choose to vote for someone other than the primary Republican or Democratic parties or if you should choose not to vote at all, is your vote thrown away?  I would say no, because it is your right and therefore whatever you choose to do with it is completely up to you and no one else.  However, by choosing to cast your vote toward some other party you do not waste your vote because you are telling the country that you do not agree with, or like, the two primary parties.  By voting for someone other than the norm, which we have had ingrained in our minds since childhood, you have the power to say it is time for true change not the façade of change.  At some point in time the third party candidate(s) will get enough votes to truly become a great threat to the party norms and the establishment as a whole.

If you should choose to not vote at all, you are telling the country that you are disgusted with all  of the political BS that is going on these days, or perhaps you are just plain lazy.  In either case, you are telling the country that the party norm(s) are no longer the values that represent America.

Either road you may choose, I would implore you to be an informed voter by studying the issues and not just picking and choosing them.  All of the issues are important, important to you and others.  I urge you neither to vote not as your friends would, nor as your co-workers would, nor as your family would!  Think long and hard and, as John Quincy Adams told us to do, “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”  And his father, John Adams, told us that we must vote as a matter of conscience.  So, vote your way, vote your conscience!

You will choose between the following parties:  Republican, Democratic, Constitution, Libertarian, Green, Socialist, and Independent.  Think hard and choose well my friends, the future of the country is at hand and the rhetoric always seems to remain the same.  I have always believed that if you want true change, you must do things differently (think, approach, and vote).

We may not agree with each other, but we do need to respect one another.  Unfortunately, I have little faith that our present representation has any respect for those they purportedly serve.  For example, no matter the party affiliation demanded that the President does not serve more than two terms, but look at the dynasties that have been built by Congressman and Senators.  Some have served as many as 50 years, some 40…the list is quite long.  What of the benefits package, while the American people have 8% unemployment, loss of jobs, wages, and benefits, our representatives want an increase in pay and benefits…and for what?

Our Founding Fathers had the idea, the notion, that people would as a matter of public service represent their fellow Americans and they would not do so for benefits, retirement, etc.  Again, unfortunately, when did we vote for such a thing?  We didn’t, our public servants voted themselves these benefits, pays, and luxuries.  So I would urge you to consider these things when you cast your ballot.


Keep these words in mind: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” ~John Adams