On October 1, 2016, the federal governmentsurrendered control of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers(ICANN). Many have felt that releasing this control of the internet would be givingaway the internet to other countries.
There are some people who assume that theU.S. has a larger influence on the group, but this is incorrect. In fact, mostICANN board members are non-American; the CEO is Egyptian. There are concernsfrom other countries that the United States basically controls the Web and usesits position to help spy on the rest of the world. Politically, the move could easerising global concerns that the U.
S. is abusing their position and spying onthem. In the wake of revelations that the National Security Agency has beengathering information on people’s internet activities, several countries have aplan to host meetings on the future of internet governance and will push fornon-U.S. control. Some believe that the U.S. announcement’s purpose was toreassure other nations that it would not retain control of ICANN.
A meeting todiscuss Internet’s future began on March 23 in Singapore. Critics of themovement called the decision rushed and politically tinged. They lackedconfidence in ICANN’s ability to operate without U.S. control.
Business groups have complainedthat ICANN’s decision-making was dominated by the interests of the industrythat sells domain names and whose fees provide the majority of ICANN’s revenue.Although ICANN is based in the USA, governments across the globe have a say inthe group’s decisions through an oversight body. The President of ICANN, FadiChehade, disputed many of the criticisms about the transition plan and promisedan inclusive process to find a new international oversight structure for thegroup. The relationship between the United States and ICANN has garnered moreinternational criticism in recent years because big, American companies such asGoogle, Facebook and Microsoft play such a large role in the Internet’s operations.ICANN’s most important function is to oversee the assigning of Internet domainsand ensure that the companies and universities involved in directing digitaltraffic do it safely.
The original creators of the internet in the 1970s-1980s greatlyunderestimated the amount of web addresses would be needed. They built a systemthat only allowed for about 4.3 billion addresses. In recent years, the worldhas been scrambling to expand the system. It is called Internet Protocolversion 6 (IPv6), that allows many, many more addresses.
Some critics of the movementbelieve that the security of the Net will be compromised one the contractexpires. There are plenty of important things on the internet that ICANN doesnot regulate, despite what some people may think. ICANN is not a policing enterprise.It does not investigate or punish hackers or spammers or those accused oftrademark infringement. ICANN is not in the business of monitoring andregulating child pornography, hate speech, or other illegal material. Lawenforcement personnel are responsible for those policing functions. InternetService Providers regulate access to the internet and are not under the controlof ICANN.
There are some critics who believea Non-U.S. control of ICANN will encourage a censorship of the Internet. Thereare several ways censorship can be put into action.
It can restrict certaincontent from being uploaded or viewed. It could limit access to harmfulactivities. Currently, someone can gain access, relatively easy, to drugs, sextrafficking, human trafficking, and child pornography. A restriction on thiscontent could make it more difficult for criminals to get access to anotherpossible victim.
It could also lessenthe impact of identity theft which is one of the fastest growing crimes in theworld. The belief is that the restriction would not allow identity informationto be easily shared and could lessen the impact that identity theft causes. Bycreating censorship regulations with strict penalties for violations, it couldreduce the number of hacking incidents that happen. Although fake informationcan be restricted through internet censorship, so can real information.
If thegovernment is dictating what individuals can see online, then people are nolonger as responsible for the decisions they make. That control is now givenover to the Government.