Weekly Current Affairs

U.S. set to hand over Internet’s naming system to ICANN [Internet Governance]

  • The U.S. is set to cede power of the Internet’s naming system to a non-profit organisation on October 1, ending the almost 20-year process to hand over a crucial part of the Internet’s governance.
  • The Domain Naming System, DNS, is one of the Internet’s most important components.
  • It pairs the easy-to-remember web addresses with their relevant servers. Without DNS, one would only be able to access websites by typing in its IP address, a series of numbers such as “194.66.82.10”.
  • The U.S. will give up its power fully to Los Angeles-based ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit organisation.
  • Users of the web will not notice any difference because ICANN has essentially being doing the job for years.
  • But it’s a move that has been fiercely criticised by some U.S. politicians as opening the door to the likes of China and Russia to meddle with a system that has always been “protected” by the US.
  • Proposal will significantly increase power of foreign governments over Internet.
  • ICANN was created in 1998 to take over the task of assigning web addresses. Until that point, that job was handled by one man - Jon Postel. He was known to many as the “god of the internet”, a nod to his power over the internet, as well as his research work in creating some of the systems that underpin networking.
  • Postel was in charge of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).
  • It marks a transition from an internet effectively governed by one nation to a multi- stakeholder governed internet: a properly global solution for what has become a global asset.