Founded in 1998, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, as it is better known, is a non-profit entity that has been in charge of overseeing some of the largest and most critical of Internet databases. To put it simply, the Internet as we currently know it probably wouldn't exist without their support.
However, some critics of ICANN fear that the organization has overstepped their bounds by taking near-complete control over the Internet, including the countless websites and all over the content contained therein.
Those opposed to the move are quick to point out that ICANN didn't act alone. In fact, if it weren't for the United States handing over their portion of the widely used naming and addressing protocol, which only recently happened, ICANN would have never been able to reach their current status. Critics cite growing concerns over a totalitarian takeover of the World Wide Web.
Several states, such as Nevada, Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma, filed a lawsuit in a final attempt to block the recent move via a temporary restraining order. They received backing and support from numerous Republican leaders and figureheads. Their request was promptly denied by a federal judge.
ICANN has even faced criticism in the past. A lack of transparency or organizational accountability has muddied their reputation somewhat, but the entity has recently adopted a multi-stakeholder platform in an attempt to address these shortcomings.
On the other hand, those who support ICANN and the United States' transfer of power are confident that it will prevent foreign governments or, in extreme cases, hackers or terrorists, from seizing control over the Internet.
The team with ICANN has also been quite communicative in trying to quell such criticism, which they claim are untrue. They stated, in part: "ICANN is a technical organization and does not have the remit or ability to regulate content on the Internet. That is true under the current contract with the US government and will remain true without the contract with the US government."
Board chair of ICANN, Stephen D. Crocker, echoed these sentiments while touting the importance of community involvement and acceptance by saying: "This transition was envisioned 18 years ago, yet it was the tireless work of the global internet community, which drafted the final proposal, that made this a reality. This community validated the multistakeholder model of internet governance. It has shown that a governance model defined by the inclusion of all voices, including business, academics, technical experts, civil society, governments and many others is the best way to assure that the internet of tomorrow remains as free, open and accessible as the internet of today."
As an average Internet user, you'll likely never notice the sudden absence of U.S. control online. In fact, since the move officially happened on October 1, 2016, you've already been using the Internet for quite some time after the fact. Although there are some valid concerns to consider, many of which center around the scruples of ICANN themselves, the majority of the critics are likely overreacting.
ICANN Takes Over Complete Control of Domain Name System
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