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October 2, 2006

U.S. to Give Up Control of ICANN in 2009

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has been under the control of the U.S. Department of Commerce since its inception.  European, South American and other governments have chaffed over what they see as U.S. government interference in the operation of ICANN.  The most recent example was the failure of ICANN to approve a .xxx domain that would handle pornographic sites and content.  The U.s. had applied political pressure to slow down and ultimately kill the proposal.  The government was accused of  pandering to its most loyal voter bloc, conservative and religious individuals who oppose pornography.  The United States government firmly resisted calls at that time to open ICANN to any international governance.

News reports now indicate that the U.S. government has renewed its oversight agreement with ICANN, but with less of a grip than under previous agreements.  ICANN will report its activities to the Internet community once per year rather than twice a year to the U.S.  ICANN should be under the control of the market once the agreement expires in three years.  European authorities have hailed the move towards ICANN independence although they plan to carefully monitor the situation.  Even though the U.S. is giving up direct control of ICANN, it is sure to bear political pressure when its interests are at stake.  By the time ICANN is free in 2009, however, the Bush administration will be safely out of office.

Stories are n the Guardian Unlimited, PC World, Ars Technica, and the BBC.

October 2, 2006 | Permalink


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