The Department of Commerce is set to hand off the final vestiges of American control over the Internet to international authorities in less than two months, officials have confirmed.
The department will finalize the transition effective Oct. 1, Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling wrote on Tuesday, barring what he called "any significant impediment."
The move means the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which is responsible for interpreting numerical addresses on the Web to a readable language, will move from U.S. control to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a multistakeholder body based in Los Angeles that includes countries such as China and Russia.
Critics of the move, most prominently Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, have pointed out the agency could be used by totalitarian governments to shut down the Web around the globe, either in whole or in part.
"The proposal will significantly increase the power of foreign governments over the Internet, expand ICANN's historical core mission by creating a gateway to content regulation, and embolden [its] leadership to act without any real accountability," Cruz wrote in a letter sent to Commerce and signed by two fellow Republicans, Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.
In the event any facilities are relocated to China, senators noted, they could go in the same building as the agency responsible for censoring that country's Internet. "We have uncovered that ICANN's Beijing office is actually located within the same building as the Cyberspace Administration of China, which is the central agency within the Chinese government's censorship regime," they wrote, noting that some of the American companies involved with the transition process have already "shown a willingness to acquiesce" to Chinese demands to aid with censorship.
"While this is certainly not illegal, it does raise significant concerns as to the increased influence that governments … as well as the culture of cronyism," they added.
In this age of increasing globalization, this was bound to happen sooner or later. I was hoping for later, but that was years ago. Now the time has come.
I'm sure the our government will "assure" us that we, as American citizens will not have anything on the internet censored as it is in other countries, but then again they said that health insurance rates for the middle class would not go up after Obamacare was implemented, and we all know that was a crock.
All is not lost. Hosting companies in America will still be able to host anyone who is willing to pay the fees. That means the ANP can still have a website regardless if it is banned worldwide. What good would it do if no one can access it because it is blocked? There are web browsers out there that can not only allow you to surf anonymously, but can get around these blocks. That's why this blog gets visitors from countries where NS is kept on a tight leash, and all NS symbols like the Swastika and the SS Runes are verboten. Germany for one. I often get visitors from Germany. Some of them could be with the German government monitoring us, but not all of them I'm sure.
This browser may become necessary for us in the future: https://www.torproject.org/
However, allowing foreigners to censor what the American public views online could backfire. This may be the thing to give the public the kick in the ass they need to get them pissed off enough to actually DO something. After all, Americans love the internet, and we don't like being told what we can and cannot access online.