Sep 30, 2016

Political Battle in USA Over Future of ICANN

We have previously commented here on the decision of the US government to relinquish control of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is a not for profit organisation founded in the USA and it has overall responsibility for the registration of domain names. Having control of this organisation gives the USA extra soft power. However, it has always said that it would relinquish this control once a suitable international body was established.

The US government now feels that such a body has been established and so control is due to be handed over at midnight on 30 September 2016. There has been attempt in the USA to stop the handover and four states (Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma and Nevada) have now filed a lawsuit in a Texan Federal Court alleging that the handover amounts to the illegal forfeiture of US government property.

These opponents state that giving up US oversight of ICANN would empower countries such as Russia, China and Iran to seek to censor freedom of speech on the internet. It has been argued by certain American politicians, including Ted Cruz, that this would be against American interests.

Supporters of the US government's decision point out that ICANN will in fact be handed over to an independent board with representation from around the world with no single body holding undue influence. They say that failing to hand over control could lead to countries such as Russia and China seeking to exert more influence in any event.

This argument is undoubtedly a political argument as much as it is a legal argument and it will be interesting to see whether the transition does indeed go ahead as planned.

in: Digital/Tech, News

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