Since its inception in 1998, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a U.S. based nonprofit organization, has been the policy administrator of the root of the global Domain Name System (DNS), under a contract from the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). NTIA had an oversight over the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions. This oversight expired on September 30, 2016, giving ICANN a full control over the technical management of the internet. This transition generated a heated debate with some who claimed that such move would stifle online freedom. Others welcomed the change and stated that the change would help strengthen and preserve the multi-stakeholder approach that would eventually help make the internet a mechanism for innovation, economic growth, and the freedom of expression.A number of Republican policymakers, led by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, tried to block the handover claiming that such move would suppress the online freedom by giving oppressive regimes voting rights. Authoritarian governments could influence ICANN, which could cause it to get involved in acts of content censorship. However, this is not possible given the multi-stakeholder structure of ICANN, which gives governments only an advisory role under the form of a group called Government Advisory Committee (GAC). In fact, the ICANN complex multi-stakeholders structure, which includes a collection of businesses, academics, technical experts, civil society organizations, governments, and individual users around the world, gives the non-government stakeholders more power within the organization. Furthermore, there are others who raised national and economic security concerns. They claimed that giving the IANA functions to a global community of stakeholders who are less likely to care about the U.S. national security interests would threaten the U.S. national security if engaged a cyberwar. But since ICANN and other registrars such as Verisign are U.S. based companies, they must adhere to the U.S. laws and regulations. The U.S. would still have control over some of the ICANN’s functions.On the opposing side, there are those who support the transition stating that the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance is the best way to ensure the internet remains open, accessible and free for all. In a joint letter, the major giant technology companies, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Verizon, urged the Congress to support a plan for the U.S. government to cede control of the internet’s technical management to a global community of stakeholders. They said in the letter that “a global, interoperable and stable internet is essential for our economic and national security, and we remain committed to completing the nearly twenty-year transition to a multi-stakeholder model that will best serve U.S. interests” (Volz, 2016). The technology companies were in favor of a governance model that is defined by the inclusion of all voices, which would protect the freedom of expression and keep the internet out of the hands of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a UN entity. Countries like China, Russia, and Iran have been pushing for the ITU to take over the IANA functions.In conclusion, the transition of the IANA functions to ICANN seemed to be a symbolic step, but a necessary one. ICANN has been doing the same function since it was created. This change would likely to preserve the stability and openness of the internet as we know it today. ICANN’s multi-stakeholder structure model might be the best option to resolve global problems created by the internet.

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