Is the USA Giving Up Control of the Internet?

Category: Networking

On March 14, 2014, the United States announced its intention to turn over control of the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) to someone else. But exactly who or what will take over? And will it make the Internet better or worse? Here is my analysis of what’s really happening…

Is the U.N. Taking Over the Internet?

Despite what you may have heard about the recently announced changes in Internet governance, it's not exactly "new news," it's not going to happen any time soon, but it could affect how people in some countries access the Internet (or not). Here's what you need to know.

The U.S. has taken the next-to-last step towards fulfilling a promise made to the world back in 1998. It has set a tentative date, in 2015, on which it hopes to relinquish its control over the Internet’s address system to a government-independent body of international stakeholders.

If no such body emerges by the deadline, the U. S. will retain what power it has until one is formed. That raises the question, “What power does the U. S. currently have?”

Who is in charge of the Internet?

The U.S. can bar anyone from using the Internet, in theory. That’s because the U. S. indirectly controls two critical functions: the assignment of IP addresses and the maintenance of the highest level of the Domain Name System (DNS). Without an IP address, a computer (or any device) cannot be connected to the Internet. Without a top-level domain name (e. g., .com, .net, .uk), a connected device can only be found by its IP address.

It's the DNS system that ensures that when you click or type "google.com", your browser brings you to the search site you're expecting, and not some rogue look-alike site in Moldova. So it's important that a secure, trustworthy entity is the keeper of those keys. And it's important that the assignment of IP addresses and domain names is not a political process.

Authority over these functions currently resides in the U.S. Commerce Department. More specifically, in an agency of the Commerce Department called the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). That agency has delegated responsibility for these functions to ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a non-profit, non-government entity based in Los Angeles. ICANN’s contract with the NTIA expires next year, and at that time NTIA plans to relinquish its authority over IP addresses and the DNS to another non-profit organization that has yet to be formed.

ICANN is now charged with getting that new authority formed. If a new authority acceptable to the U. S. is not formed by the time ICANN’s contract expires, ICANN’s contract will be extended and things will continue as they are for a while.

The process will be messy, noisy, and political. Ideally, the new authority will consist of stakeholders from every interest group: governments, private corporations, non-profit organizations, and end-users. One of the conditions that the U.S. has set is that the new authority cannot be controlled by any government; that’s like saying that the United Nations cannot be controlled by any government. To paraphrase former President Bill Clinton, “It depends on what your definition of ‘control’ is.”

Some Concerns About Human RIghts

What unsettles some is that Russia, China and other countries with less-than-stellar human rights policies are making the most noise about moving Internet governance out of the USA. They would like the U.N. to be in charge, giving them more power to censor online political speech and dissent. And given the U.N.'s track record of putting dictators in charge of things, one can understand these concerns. Last November, Russia, China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia were chosen by secret ballot to serve on the UN's laughable Human Rights Council.

Typically, whoever controls the purse strings controls everything. If the new Internet governance body is funded by member contributions, then power will concentrate in the factions that contribute the most money. ICANN will have to come up with a different, politically neutral funding mechanism. Selling IP addresses and domain names may be a workable option, but provisions will be needed to prevent any entity or faction from cornering the market.

The news that the U.S. is giving up control of the Internet is being painted as a reaction to current events, including the NSA’s spying activities. In reality, it’s a long-anticipated step in what has been planned for the Internet since 1998. Before NTIA and ICANN, control of the Internet was held by DARPA. In fact, at one time a single person held the power to decide who got a domain name and who didn’t. His name was Jon Postel and his power was so awesome that his nickname within the geek community was simply, “God.”

The transfer of power from a military agency to the Commerce Department, which serves broad commercial interests, was a step towards openness and inclusion of more stakeholders. Delegating power to the non-governmental ICANN was a further step. Taking the U. S. government entirely out of the picture is the final step, and it won’t be taken until another suitable custodian of the Internet is available.

Bottom line, the Internet isn't likely to fundamentally change (at least in the USA) once this transition is complete. You'll still be able to find cat videos on Youtube, and spew the most private details of your life on Facebook, if you choose to do so. Users in China, Russia, and other totalitarian regimes may not be as lucky.

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Posted by on 20 Mar 2014


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Most recent comments on "Is the USA Giving Up Control of the Internet?"

Posted by:

Jon
20 Mar 2014

I didn't realise that the USA had any control of the internet.

Is this really going to make any difference? I doubt it, domain names with a .co.uk suffix will still be a fraction of the price that GoDaddy etc. charge in the USA than our 'not for profit' does in the UK.

Is China going to demand 'democracy' basing voting rights for regulation on the number of users they 'represent'?

To paraphrase an old Chinese curse - we live in interesting times......


Posted by:

samiamhis
20 Mar 2014

My thoughts on this action are many. One is a question. Did the U.S. have an agreed 2015 date to relinquish it's control? If not, why now? Human rights violations don't just exist overseas. I could name hundreds of examples where free speech is threatened in the U.S. One would be facebook deleting the photos that a mother posted on her page of her infant daughter that was born with a severe brain defect and only lived 8 hours. They held her, bathed her and loved her for those 8 hours and took video and photos of her that were a true reflection of this tiny life. Facebook deemed those photos inappropriate and took them down. She re-posted them and they shut her page down for 24 hours. I have seen things on facebook that I have found offensive but it is facebook that is making those decisions. What I find offensive they don't. Facebook has full power in its arena. That is pretty scary as is the thought of "international stakeholders" running the domain authority. We value free speech in the U.S. as it is part of our constitution. Many countries do not. If facebooks behavior is a relection of what is going to be our future, God hlep us!


Posted by:

Viggo Madsen
20 Mar 2014

I would much prefer control of the internet remains in the US. And if not possible - then a combination of free democratic countries in Europe and US. I just don't think this should be left to the UN.
Viggo Madsen


Posted by:

Tony
20 Mar 2014

Hmmm... I shudder at the thought of the US losing or relinquishing control of the internet and whilst I accept that US democracy may not be perfect it's the closest we have to being so. Que sera sera


Posted by:

Sonny Barnes
21 Mar 2014

The internet was paid for by the U.S. taxpayer and they are the owners of it. Our government is run by large corporations, wall street, and the elite who want a one world government. Moving the internet to this U.N. control is part of this movement. It has nothing to do with the NSA as proposed. This is a cover for moving it to the one world government movement. With the control moved away from the U.S. it removes the power from the rightful owners, the American people, so once it is moved what can any American do when the power over their internet sites, websites, etc are controlled elsewhere. It's just part of the central power play.

Our money is centrally controlled in world banks ran by the elite, our congress and president is controlled by the elite corporations and banks and the power shift is continuing to be moved openly into the hands of those who had been controlling these same things in secret for decades. The internet is just one cog in the desired power structure. It goes much deeper than the centralization of the internet and money, it is about reducing the American people to servants of the elite with no property rights and little freedom as we have know it. These elitist do not like democratic societies who can vote them out of power. Take away the power of the people by reducing the power of congress which is handed to the executive branch which is handed to the U.N.

And the story continues, it's not about the control of the internet, it is about the control of you and me. Are you still asleep?


Posted by:

Jay
21 Mar 2014

Finally, an understandable explanation of what is happening. Good work.


Posted by:

john
21 Mar 2014

Ok, but why does the US want to give it up in the first place and let other third world countries have it??


Posted by:

Dave
21 Mar 2014

How could this happen to something Al Gore invented?


Posted by:

RandiO
21 Mar 2014

I hereby nominate Bob Rankin as the next internet "God"!
Respects!


Posted by:

Sonny Barnes
21 Mar 2014

John,
It is because our government no longer represents you and me, the government represents those who pay them (banks, corporations, industrial military complex. These same "globalist" are not patriotic to America but to their pocket book and their power. It really goes much deeper than space is allowed here. Many in our congress for the most part and many of our past presidents are one world recruits. The people of our country really don't have a clue of what is transpiring. "Our" Federal Reserve is not ours, the owners are people from around the world. They print our money and disburse it to their other central banks around the world for their personal use as they see fit and the American people as you have witnessed are responsible for their corrupt losses from these derivatives, etc. Moving our production overseas was by design to indebt this country to the breaking point, we are here. The power of the American people had to be debased in order for us to ry uncle and cave to their "better"life in the new currency, new government era. I believe they will get a little further along but it is already crumbling down. They will not succeed but in the attempt to make this one world government, much hardship for all the people of the world will have to be endured. These people think they do God a service, however they are power hungry criminals which will not stop until they are stopped. Like I said space does not allow an in-depth explanation but in a nutshell our government is being circumvented by the Wall Street banks, and the large corporations (one and the same) and their employees, the CIA, NSA, Homeland Security, FBI. It may sound lie a joke but these depraved minds have bought and paid for the top ranks of all these institutions. The lower echelon, rank and file, honest employees of these same institutions are most times as frustrated as the rest of us are. All you need to do is control the head and you control the body so they think. There are two America's, one are the people who elect our congress and the other is the elite who own the congress after they get there. ETc, etc, etc,


Posted by:

Mark L. Levinson
22 Mar 2014

While certainly there's pressure on the USA and on its officials from the folks with the fat wallets, there's also a pernicious idea that since power corrupts, exercising power is a sin and the best thing to do is just toss the power away-- preferably to some body that seems to be run responsibly. But in general, all those international organizations, from the UN down, are run more irresponsibly than the US Congress.


Posted by:

MmeMoxie
22 Mar 2014

Thank you, Bob ... For explaining this issue, in common language. I understand it better, now.

While, I tend to disagree with most of what Sonny Barnes has written ... I do agree, that the UN would be the worse place to "hand over the reigns" of the Internet to!!! Please, take for instance the Human Rights Committee of the UN ... Most of the countries involved and that are on this committee ... Commit human rights crimes, daily!!! The minute the UN was formed, it was as lackluster as the League of Nations was, that was totally disbanded ... The UN should be disbanded, as well.

I also, do not think that Europe, especially Russia, should not have "control" of the Internet, either!!! Heavens, they can't even control their own countries well enough, yet alone, the Internet. Forget, any of the Asian countries, as well, like China or Malaysia or Singapore or The Phillipines.

Sonny Barnes is right, about past Presidents working towards a One World Government. Mind you, this has been both Democratic and Republican Presidents, so this really is big and so, this has been on the "books" for some time, now. This "movement' has more to do with the Banking Institutions, than really Corporations, though they have a "hand" in this concept, as well. I worry, about that whole concept, myself, like Sonny does.

Does what Sonny and I are saying, sound conspiratorial??? In many respects it is ... But, the bottom line is, since the 1980's ... There has been subtle changes, within the world's financial handlings and in all honesty, the World Bank has gained, quite a bit of power, during this time frame. Just saying.


Posted by:

Chuck Saylors
22 Mar 2014

I agree with most of what is being said here. Even our President, a definite "one-world er", is for this. He has been on a mission to socialize and weaken this country. Done a lot of damage already. While Facebook is a useful social networking tool, it is just another distraction. Most people are more interested in it, American Idol, etc. than what is happening in the world. Russia is about to invade Ukraine, there is a possibility that the Malaysian airliner was hijacked and possibly crashed to serve Allah, and our Congress allows more and more unconstitutional acts by our President to go unchallenged, giving him more reason to believe he is "King". But I bet most people know what J Lo wore on AI Wednesday night. Sad.


Posted by:

samiamhis
22 Mar 2014

I agree that there are people and organizations who "run" things in this world, however, it is somewhat unfair to indicate that all groups in power should be lumped into that bag. There are leaders in our government who are honest and actually have a desire to serve those who elected them, though with our current structure it is difficult to stay that way. There are corporations who have people in power who have taken huge risks to further the development of ingenious technology and have provided for economic stability for many individuals and families. Not everyone in government/security organizations is an Edward Snowden nor a Lois Lerner. I am not commenting here on the positions these people have taken but the chaos their choices have brought. I am unsure if either of those individuals are smart enough to know how they have furthered the cause of the progressives elitists they work for or did work for. Those elitists control by fear and by the use of smoke and mirrors. They divert our attention by creating crisis situations while they accomplish their evil deeds. The disseminate non-factual information repeatedly until it becomes "truth" because people have heard it for so long and are too lazy to search out the facts. They turn certain people and groups into "monsters" while they destroy our inalienable rights. This is the nature of absolute power. Control the masses through fear of what will happen if we don't do this or that thing.

One small example would be carbon dioxide. It is actually the very gas of life on this planet. It has become an evil monster whose footprint must be done away with. If you produce it you must necessarily be punished. Yet this planet cannot exist without it and the upswing of carbon in dioxide in our atmosphere is what allows us produce better and more wholesome crops. Carbon dioxide actually reduces the harmful effects of pollutants like ozone and nitrous oxide in the air, or too much nitrogen fertilizer in the soil. More carbon dioxide in the air has enabled plants to survive conditions of prolonged heat, drought and flooding that would otherwise kill them. This has sustained the food supply for our growing populations. Yes, there are areas where famines exist and people are starving but that has far more to do with how their governments control their people than with carbon dioxide being the culprit. Strangely, this information is not what people hear. In order to control the masses and create wealth and power for a few, the population is being filled with misinformation to create an atmosphere of fear and urgency and now those lies have become truth.

This is just a small example of how freedom of speech and information exchange could be threatened by the internet going to the control of unknown individuals. Not everyone might agree with the example I have given, but the facts of carbon dioxide do speak for themselves if you research them with an open mind. What if we lose the ability to find and disseminate information that is available for those who seek it?


Posted by:

Ian Thompson
24 Mar 2014

Why should you Americans control the Internet, particularly when we (the Brits, via Tim Berners-Lee) invented it. (I assume the Al Gore comment was ironic!).

EDITOR'S NOTE: You're confusing the Internet, which was invented in 1969 as project of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the WWW software, which Berners-Lee contributed 20 years later.


Posted by:

Sonny Barnes
24 Mar 2014

A lot of our large corporations which grew up around our Wall Street banks also control the Federal Reserve via the hidden stock holders and by proxy. Many Wall Street bank owners and many of your largest corporations in the world are one and the same people. Notice how the powers which surround the President are either large corporate people and Wall Street bankers? They go from bank and corporate leaders back to private business again. Our industrial military complex (large corporations) and our large banks plan wars together for profit. Have you noticed how the U.S. abandons a lot of military equipment after a war? Regardless of the rhetoric equipment that cost tens of millions cost less to ship back than leaving it to others. If you ship it back, you can't build this item and bill the taxpayer. When Baghdad was bombed by over 2600 sorties a day for weeks and practically destroyed the city, who profited? If you look deep into the owners of Bechtel and Haliburton for example you will find the people who billed the American taxpayers for the destruction by the military also greatly profited by the rebuilding of Baghdad. It sounds quiet bazaar to think and say such thinks but it is true, you have a class of people who think of other human beings are just fodder for profit. Yes it is that evil and no, it is not a conspirator theory. It is the way big business works. Just like the meaning of "inflation", our governments and banks have to first debase (steal) our money for it to inflate. While you can't lump all banks and corporations together you can tie the ones together by common ownership and interest. In a nutshell, the America people with their powers and freedoms granted to them by our Republican form of government and the powers granted to them by our constitution pose the greatest threat to these "globalist." The more individual freedoms you give a people the more of a threat they are to those few in world power. Whether it is moving the internet away from these people (Americans), or taking any other power they may yield that will circumvent this OWG power play, it must be done at all cost to succeed. Moving production ( labor and production is true money) overseas moves the power away from those who oppose this power shift. All these different circumstances were all planned to weaken America so the power could be shifted to the people who want it so. Asking the American people for permission to move the power from them was not going to work so you appoint and elect leaders in practically every department that favor this power shift and you do it by stealth. I do not see it succeeding completely as they have planned but it is going to be interesting in the next few years to watch it play out and see how far these elitist get.
Many globalist in their CFR speeches have made it no secret it is the democratic Americans which pose the greatest obstacle to this one world power structure. My comments are not written to prove or disprove anything, they are merely observations which tie it all together. Bob's forum here may not be the place for what it would take a book to explain but this may help in why some may want the internet moved. The American people quickly raise up and put a stop to a lot of these kind of moves while moving it would prevent them from doing so in the future. Interesting drama unfolding…….


Posted by:

Ed Connell
27 Mar 2014

I have no problem as long as the group in charge is a non profit organization with no political ties. In fact it is in the best interest of humanity to be politically censor free. For the internet to remain truly free it must be run and maintained by a non profit organization that represents the people of the world and have no ties to any political agenda and a singular goal of keeping internet equally free to all. Governments will always block sites they don't want their citizens to use but those sites still have to be there to block as no site should ever be censored!


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