The United States will officially relinquish its authority over the internet’s naming system on October 1 to a California-based non-profit comprised of government and technology stakeholders.
Over 33,000 emails have been exchanged and more than 800 hours have been spent in meetings discussing the transition, according to ICANN, the group that will officially oversee the domain name system.
Why Is the Government Stepping Aside?
The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration has authority over the domain name system but has mostly let ICANN run the show since 1998.
The decision to give ICANN the keys to the kingdom has been the plan all along. In a 1998 policy statement, the NTIA said it was committed to a transition that would let the private sector take over management of the domain name system.
With ICANN maturing as an organization, officials announced in March 2014 their intention to work with ICANN to create a plan to transition the system.
That time is now coming.
What Is ICANN?
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit group based in Los Angeles, California. Members hail from around the world and may work for governments, technology companies or simply be interested in helping to shape the evolution of the internet.
It’s important to note that ICANN does not control the internet. The group’s role is similar to both the Federal Communications Commission and the Better Business Bureau in that it develops policy on the internet’s unique identifiers, keeps track of the businesses involved in registration, and ensures everything is running smoothly.
ICANN’s mission on its website declares, “Users of the internet deserve a say in how it is run.”
Why the Naming System Matters
Names on the internet allow us to type in NBCNews.com, as opposed to a string of numbers.
Does This Change Anything for Internet Users?
No. It will be business as usual.