Saturday, March 15, 2014

Global Governance of Internet Imminent, as U.S. Agrees to Release Control

By Douglas V. Gibbs

I guess now we can truly call it the worldwide web.  U.S. officials have announced any remaining federal government control of the Internet will be relinquished, leaving the fate of the Web in the hands of international interests.  This is the result of mounting pressure that has been building for over a decade, and the National Security Agency snooping scandal did not help.  The action includes an end to a contract between the Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based nonprofit group.

The response has been an "either - or" with some happy about the change, and others being very critical of it.

Globalists like Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) called the move “consistent with other efforts the U.S. and our allies are making to promote a free and open Internet, and to preserve and advance the current multi-stakeholder model of global Internet governance.”

With the Internet in global hands, however, it not only allows control of it to fall into the wrong hands, but as former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) tweeted: “What is the global internet community that Obama wants to turn the internet over to? This risks foreign dictatorships defining the internet.”

As always, when you allow control over something on a larger scale, immediate concerns arise regarding the mandates that will be put into place, and the limitations that may arise due to the centralized control, or complete lack of governance, depending.  Allowing the United States to let go of its oversight of the Internet will definitely alleviate some of the fears regarding American intelligence spying on the rest of the world, but also allow unknown entities to dictate the Web, and possibly limit use.

The opportunity for innovation, however, may also be knocking at the door.  If global controls are minimized, or international organizations are kept at bay, this may be an opportunity for innovation through the private sector.  If the free market is able to truly grab a hold of the Internet, the opportunities could be limitless.

Some critics disagree, calling the decision hasty and politically tinged, and voiced significant doubts about the fitness of ICANN to operate without U.S. oversight and beyond the bounds of U.S. law.

“This is a purely political bone that the U.S. is throwing,” said Garth Bruen, a security fellow at the Digital Citizens Alliance, a Washington-based advocacy group that combats online crime. “ICANN has made a lot of mistakes, and ICANN has not really been a good steward.”  ICANN's decision-making in the past have been in the interest of the industry, argue some (you mean, profit?), and feel the U.S. government contract was a modest check against such abuses.

“It’s inconceivable that ICANN can be accountable to the whole world. That’s the equivalent of being accountable to no one,” said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, a trade group representing major Internet commerce businesses.

U.S. officials said their decision had nothing to do with the NSA spying revelations and the worldwide controversy they sparked, saying there had been plans since ICANN’s creation in 1998 to eventually migrate it to international control.

“The timing is now right to start this transition both because ICANN as an organization has matured, and international support continues to grow for the multistakeholder model of Internet governance,” said Lawrence E. Strickling, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information in a statement.

ICANN is based in Southern California, but governments worldwide have a say in the group’s decisions through an oversight body, that serve as a kind of check and balance.

Fadi Chehade, president of ICANN and a Lebanese born Christian of Egyptian parents, disputed many of the complaints about the transition plan and promised an open, inclusive process to find a new international oversight structure for the group.

“Nothing will be done in any way to jeopardize the security and stability of the Internet,” he said.

The United States' authority over elements of the Internet stems from the original growth of it from a Defense Department program that started in the 1960s.  Though it is being suggested that this new international Internet will promote open access to the Web, fears of international hands flooding the cookie jar are present.  If the security of the Internet spirals out of control, we may see a larger player than the United States, like the United Nations, claim the need for oversight.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Fadi Chehade - ICANN Wiki

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