The United States will fulfill a years-old promise to privatize the governance of the World Wide Web in October.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was established in 1988 to coordinate domain names across the globe. A nonprofit organization, ICANN is overseen by the US Department of Commerce.
Naturally, a number of countries and privacy advocates have expressed concern that a global entity as vital as the internet is under the control of the US, and the Obama Administration promised to cede control over ICANN.
Until recently, Washington had failed to make good on this promise. But on Tuesday, Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling confirmed that the process will be finalized in roughly two months.
“On Friday, ICANN informed NTIA [National Telecommunications & Information Administration] that is has completed or will complete all the necessary tasks called for in the transition proposal by the end of the contract term,” he wrote in a post on the department’s website.
“NTIA has thoroughly reviewed the report. We informed ICANN today that based on that review and barring any significant impediment, NTIA intends to allow the [Internet Assigned Numbers Authority] functions contract to expire as of October 1.”
The transition was originally slated to occur September 2015, but was delayed.
“It has become increasingly apparent over the last few months that the community needs time to complete its work, have the plan reviewed by the US government, and then implement it if it is approved,” Strickling wrote at the time.
A number of countries have expressed support for the transition, as well as ICANN head Fadi Chehade.
“I feel the proposal will lead us to a global, independent, neutral, well-governed organization,” he said last year. “I’m never comfortable, but I am optimistic and I believe that all interests are now aligned…Everybody sees that this makes sense.”
Despite international support, many US politicians have fought against the plan.
“The proposal will significantly increase the power of foreign governments over the internet, expand ICANN’s historical core mission by creating a gateway to content regulation, and embolden [its] leadership to act without any real accountability,” Texas Senator Ted Cruz wrote in a letter to the Department of Commerce, according to the Washington Examiner.
For the time being, it seems saner heads have prevailed.
“We appreciate the hard work and dedication of all the stakeholders involved in this effort,” Strickling wrote, “and look forward to their continuing engagement.”