Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, officially marked the end of the U.S. government's control over the Internet's most basic functions with the expiration of its contract with the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN's executives and board of directors will now defer to what the organization calls the Internet's "stakeholder community" — a loosely defined combination of corporate interests, government officials, activists, and experts diffused across four international entities.
The withdrawal of U.S. governance over Internet Protocol addresses has provoked accusations the Obama administration has ceded the last remnants of a critical oversight mechanism. However, ICANN vice president Christopher Mondini says the U.S. government's oversight "was more symbolic than practical," noting the intent has always been to allow the contract to expire. However, ICANN advisory board member Garth Bruen has reservations, noting "there's no checks and balances anymore."
Supporters of ending the U.S. government's role over ICANN, which include most major technology and telecommunications companies, say the many interests will work together to keep the Internet stable and free. "There is absolutely no way that this is going to imperil freedoms," says the Center for Democracy and Technology's Matthew Shears. "There is absolutely no way that this is going to allow Russia or Iran or anybody to take control of the Internet."
From The Washington Post
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