Menu
Fears about ICANN transition are overstated, US agency chief says

Fears about ICANN transition are overstated, US agency chief says

Concerns the transition away from U.S. government oversight will lead to censorship misunderstand the role of ICANN, the NTIA's administrator says

Concerns that the U.S. government's plan to end its oversight of the internet's domain name coordinating body would lead to new web censorship efforts are unfounded because of the current contract's limited scope, according to a top U.S. administration official.

Critics fear that the end of the U.S. government's oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) would embolden other countries to censor the internet. But neither ICANN nor the U.S. government has the authority to stop censorship in other countries now, said Lawrence Strickling, administrator of the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The NTIA's contract with ICANN to oversee the global coordination of the DNS Root and IP addressing -- scheduled to expire at the end of the month -- "is too limited in scope to be a tool for protecting internet freedom," Strickling told a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

Instead, if the NTIA fails to move forward with its planned transition away from ICANN oversight, repressive countries may point to U.S. control as evidence that a new governmental body is needed to control the organization, Strickling said. An extension of the contract "could actually lead to the loss of internet freedom we want to maintain," he said.

The NTIA has proposed to end its oversight of ICANN as a way to discourage other countries from pushing for new government control over the internet.

Republican committee members, led by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, blasted President Barack Obama's administration for the planned transition. Cruz has suggested that the transition amounts to the U.S. giving away the internet, although ICANN's authority is limited to administering the domain name system.

U.S. free speech protections, combined with the ICANN contract, gives its government the authority to protect websites against censorship, Cruz said. "Since the internet's inception, the United States government has stood guard over critical internet functions," he added. "Under the guardianship of the United States and the First Amendment the internet has become truly an oasis of freedom, but that could soon change."

Without NTIA oversight, ICANN could move its headquarters outside of the U.S. and change its bylaws to be more friendly to foreign influence, Cruz said.

The transition may be an illegal relinquishment of government property without congressional approval, added Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican. But earlier this week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued an opinion saying the internet domain name system is unlikely to be government property.

Republican concerns are misguided, said Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat. The transition would remove the NTIA's role in an "essentially clerical process," he said. 

The transition "is not, as some have suggested, the United States giving up ownership of the internet," Coons added. "The United States does not own the internet."


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Events

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

This year’s Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards were held as an integral part of the first entirely virtual Emerging Leaders​ forum, an annual event dedicated to identifying, educating and showcasing the New Zealand technology market’s rising stars. The 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 recognised the outstanding achievements and business excellence of 30 talented individuals​, across both young leaders and those just starting out. In this slideshow, Reseller News honours this year's winners and captures their thoughts about how their ideas of leadership have changed over time.​

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners
Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

This exclusive Reseller News Exchange event in Auckland explored the challenges facing the partner community on the cloud security frontier, as well as market trends, customer priorities and how the channel can capitalise on the opportunities available. In association with Arrow, Bitdefender, Exclusive Networks, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security
Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2019 inductees - Leanne Buer, Ross Jenkins and Terry Dunn - to the fourth running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing face of the IT channel ecosystem in New Zealand and what it means to be a Reseller News Hall of Fame inductee. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments