The U.S. seems ready to give up control of the internet

The U.S. Department of Commerce is apparently seeking alternative bids for control of the domain name system registry that acts as the address book for the entire web. Inside the Department of Commerce is the National Telecommunication Industry Association (NTIA), which happens to have purview over some spectrum assets, a few agencies spending federal money on broadband and the contract for the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

That contract currently is managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN), but it is set to expire in September 2015. And apparently the NTIA doesn’t want to oversee that contract involving the management of IANA anymore. In a press conference Friday, NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling said, “NTIA is asking ICANN to convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the current role played by NTIA.”

While a bit of a surprise, the move makes sense given that for years, the U.S. involvement in ICANN has caused some consternation among other countries, and recently the call to make ICANN more independent from the U.S. have only grown.

In the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations showing that the U.S. National Security Agency has been spying on world leaders, U.S. citizens and hacking into private companies to get access to their networks, world leaders have been calling on the U.S. to relinquish control over the internet.

So what’s next for control of the internet if the NTIA doesn’t control that contract? That’s going to be the stuff of discussion over the next year and half as ICANN and stakeholders discuss how the internet should be governed. Thankfully, many stakeholders have started that discussion already.