ICANN Defends Plan to End U.S. Oversight of the Internet

(Photo courtesy of NOAA.)
(Photo courtesy of NOAA.)

Congress hears arguments for and against Commerce Department plans to give up control of many Internet operations.

Commerce Department plans to relinquish its oversight of Internet operations as early as next year are drawing calls for stronger US guarantees of continued openness and freedom on the Internet.

The Internet has thrived under US leadership, industry leaders told a House panel Thursday, and they worry that if the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) ends its oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) it could undermine the Internet’s independence

The transition is not a big deal, NTIA and ICANN officials said. NTIA now plays no role in the internal governance of ICANN and has no regulatory oversight.

“Let me be clear: NTIA’s announcement will not affect the status quo,” ICANN president and CEO Fadi Chehade said. The government’s oversight role is “ministerial, minor, and has had no real impact on day-to-day operations of ICANN or the Internet.”

But, “removing oversight means removing accountability,” said Daniel Castro, senior analyst for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. He called for some authority to keep ICANN answerable. “Any pledge, commitment, or oath made by the current ICANN leadership is not binding unless there is some accountability mechanism in place to back up that promise.”

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SOURCE: William Jackson 
Information Week

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