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ICANN To Function Independently From U.S. Government
By: Joe Eitel
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    2009-12-02

    Table of Contents:
  • ICANN To Function Independently From U.S. Government
  • Lawmakers Question gTLD Plans
  • Details of the New Agreement

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    ICANN To Function Independently From U.S. Government


    (Page 1 of 3 )

    You've probably heard the news that ICANN is now an independent entity, no longer under the control of the US government. What does this mean, and what are the ramifications for you? Keep reading to find out.

    The Marina Del Ray-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit corporation that’s been around for over ten years and functions as an overseer of Internet-related tasks that had previously been performed by the U.S. government. Some of the corporation’s tasks include allocating IP addresses and domain name system management, among others.

    Until very recently, ICANN was basically a creature of the U.S. Department of Commerce and received a great deal of criticism as a result. The non-profit has been in a longtime struggle with the U.S. government for broader control of Internet functions. Just a few weeks ago, however, ICANN reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce that would change the way ICANN operated entirely.

    The new agreement between the corporation and the U.S. creates a new international management scheme, under which the U.S. now has very limited control in terms of negotiations, with a majority of the responsibility being handed to ICANN. Ties between ICANN and the Department of Commerce won't be severed completely under the new agreement; the U.S. will have a single seat on ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) which will continue to oversee policy making.

    The agreement between the two entities indicates an end of an era, which was characterized by U.S. dominance of the DNS. ICANN, after many years of negotiations, will now function independently and not be “controlled by any one entity.”

    Unfair Control of ICANN

    Similar groups, such as the European Commission, have long argued that the United States’ control over ICANN -- and by extension, Internet governance -- has been unfair. Some have even asserted that politics in the United States have unfairly and unjustly influenced ICANN’s decisions. For example, during the Bush administration, ICANN repeatedly refused to sanction XXX domains, which many believed was a concession to the religious right.

    Under the new agreement, ICANN will now finally be able to fulfill their original objectives, which the organization created when it first formed; it can now act as a responsible body created to serve the world’s best interest in respect to Internet governance.

    Internet users worldwide can also take solace in the new agreement, and they will benefit from it as well. From here on out, all of ICANN’s decisions regarding domain names and IP addresses will be made independently, forcing the non-profit to act fairly and not be swayed by outside influences such as the politics of powerful religious groups. Not only that, but the new decision will also cause ICANN to be more accountable for their actions.

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