Internet Governance

U.S. sets date to cede control of key internet function

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After a years-long transition, the U.S. has finally agreed to cede control of a key piece of the global internet's backbone. The National Telecommunications and Information Agency announced that it would not renew the contract that maps web addresses to numerical nodes on the internet.

The so-called IANA function (short for Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) has been contracted out by the U.S. government since the dawn of the public internet. The entity that handles the contract, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has been retooled to take over the function on its own.

The move has been in the works since March 2014, when NTIA first announced its intention to cede the IANA function to a non-governmental organization. While privatization of the IANA function was part of the U.S. plan for the internet, it was accelerated by the Edward Snowden revelations about government surveillance of online communications.

The process has faced some headwinds, including opposition from congressional Republicans, who feared that a lack of U.S. control would lead to the increased influence from Russia and China over the openness of the global internet.

NTIA Director Lawrence Strickling announced that the U.S. would allow the current IANA contract to lapse on Oct. 1, and that ICANN would be taking over the important technical function the contract covered, "barring any significant impediment."

In an Aug. 16 blog post, Strickling wrote, "The IANA stewardship transition represents the final step in the U.S. government’s long-standing commitment, supported by three Administrations, to privatize the Internet’s domain name system."

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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