ICANN publishes proposal to end U.S. oversight of internet

Sometime in the middle of 2016, the U.S. will cede most of its control of the internet and hand it over to a privatized corporation.  The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will create a private entity to take over its functions that were previously overseen by the U.S. government.


A "Customer Standing Committee" would monitor performance of what would essentially be an ICANN subsidiary, and a review process involving stake-holders would be put in place.

ICANN would remain based in Southern California, and any major structural or operational changes to the foundation of the Internet's addressing system would require approval of the nonprofit organization's board of directors.

The 199 page proposal was posted online at icann.org, where a note said that a public comment period would end on September 8.

ICANN president Fadi Chehade said last month that the end of the US role is now set for mid-2016, with the transition pushed back by a year to allow time for input from the Internet community and review by the US government and Congress.

ICANN will become an independent entity without US government oversight for the Internet's domain and address system, Chehade said, noting that the transition is likely to take place between July and September 2016.

"We will further empower the community to ensure the accountability of ICANN as an institution," Chehade said in an interview with AFP in Washington.

"By making this independent and neutral we are enhancing the longevity of this model."

Chehade said governments around the world appear to be coming around to accepting the existing "multistakeholder" model that allows for all groups of Internet users and interested parties to participate, instead of a "multilateral" model led by governments.

The US government in March 2014 outlined its plan to step away from its oversight role and fully privatize the functions of ICANN.

Couple this with the FCC's "Net Neutrality" proposed rules, and you will get an internet hardly recognizable from the one we use today.  Worries over censorship of political speech are not entirely unfounded, but the real threat is to e-commerce.  The "multistakeholder" model is flawed.  Governments may not be able to dictate internet access, but what about "private" entities that are little more than extensions of government control?  The worry is that big countries like Russia, China, and India, as well as regional coalitions of Arabs and Muslins, can slap ruinous controls on internet access that would interfere with commerce and perhaps even political free speech.

The FCC regs are being fought in court.  But there is nothing to be done about ICANN's transition to a private concern.  Oppressive governments have been demanding the right to control their own – and others' – internet access for a decade.  Looks like they're about to get their wish.