US to relinquish key oversight role for Internet
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Last Updated: Saturday, March 15, 2014, 06:47
  
Washington: The US government announced it was giving up its key role in charge of the Internet's technical operations, handing over those functions to "the global multistakeholder community."

The US Commerce Department yesterday said it would seek "to convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal" for a transition away from US government oversight of the Internet's domain name system.

The move "marks the final phase of the privatisation" of the Internet domain system, a statement said.

In 1997, the Internet domain system was handed over by the US government to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a non-profit group.

The decision comes with Washington under pressure following revelations about vast surveillance programs operated by the secretive National Security Agency to collect data through a variety of methods.

The end of the US oversight role has no immediate impact for Internet users, and ICANN will continue to administer the network's key technical functions.

The shift seeks "to support and enhance the multistakeholder model of Internet policymaking and governance," said the statement from the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The US agency's role administering changes to the so-called "root zone" of databases underlying the Internet makes it a steward of that system, even though the functions are contracted out to ICANN and the infrastructure company Verisign.

"The timing is right to start the transition process," said Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence Strickling.

"We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan." The statement said the US hopes to "support and enhance the multistakeholder model," and "maintain the openness of the Internet" under any new system.

ICANN welcomed the announcement and said it was moving forward on a transition plan.

"We are inviting governments, the private sector, civil society and other Internet organizations from the whole world to join us in developing this transition process," said ICANN president and CEO Fadi Chehade.

"All stakeholders deserve a voice in the management and governance of this global resource as equal partners."

AFP

First Published: Saturday, March 15, 2014, 06:47


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