US signs agreement with ICANN to ‘internationalize’ Internet governance

US signs agreement with ICANN to ‘internationalize’ Internet governance

In a move that marks the loosening of the US government’s grip on the Internet, the US Commerce Department Wednesday signed an agreement with Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to facilitate increased global involvement in the Internet domain name process.

The agreement comes within months of the European Union’s suggestion that ICANN should be de-linked from the US government and made an autonomous organization.

The agreement has been widely appreciated by US lawmakers as well as companies and international officials – while the lawmakers desired more trademark protections, the companies and officials looked forward to greater independence from US authority.

Thus far, ICANN – the body responsible for assigning Internet addresses - was considered to be extensively influenced by the US Department of Commerce; however, the agreement would pave the way for ICANN to become a “private sector led organization.” 

As per the terms of the agreement, ICANN would now be subject to periodic reviews by a panel that would include a US representative and independent experts; thereby freeing it from the condition of reporting only to the US, and bringing about an ‘internationalization’ of Internet governance.

Commenting on the agreement signed with Larry Strickling, administrator of National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Commerce Department, the ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom said: “This agreement gives international stakeholders an even more powerful voice in our activities moving forward.”

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