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USA prepares to hand over power of the internet's naming system

20 August 2016

United States has confirmed that it will hand the power of the internet's naming system to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) - a non-profit organisation.

The DNS plays a critical part in the functioning of the web by connecting text-based web addresses with an underlying numerical code, known as an IP address, to ensure efficient online navigation. While privatization of the IANA function was part of the US plan for the internet, it was accelerated by the Edward Snowden revelations about government surveillance of online communications.

The Obama Administration announced Wednesday it will move authority for the internet's domain-name system to a nonprofit entity on October 1, according to the Wall Street Journal. All these years we have been able to see no problems in terms of using an IP address or getting a particular website in place but with the DNS system moving out to another company the USA government will be slightly lightened of their burden. On October 1st the NTIA will allow it to end, giving ICANN control of DNS. In 2014, Republicans drafted the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act of 2014, which would have required the Government Accountability Office to study the impact of the United States giving up its oversight role of the DNS before it becomes official.

For the world's internet users, the hand-off will go largely unnoticed - day-to-day use of the internet will not be affected.

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Lawrence Strickling, the head of the NTIA, said in a blog post that the transition "represents the final step in the USA government's longstanding commitment, supported by three [presidential] administrations, to privatize the internet's domain-name system".

In a blog post, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling described this week's announcement as a "milestone" for the internet. "It marks a transition from an internet effectively governed by one nation to a multi-stakeholder governed internet: a properly global solution for what has become a global asset". It's a significant effort that will see the USA finally concede complete control of the DNS "address book" to ICANN. "NTIA's current stewardship role was meant to be temporary".

Last week, ICANN said Public Technical Identifiers, a nonprofit public benefit corporation, had been incorporated in California, to eventually run the IANA functions under contract from ICAAN, after the transition was complete.

USA prepares to hand over power of the internet's naming system