My Take: The Recent Debate about the Internet

Nov 29, 2016

I have heard from many constituents about the U.S. government transferring oversight over aspects of the internet to a private, non-profit organization based in California called ICANN. This is a complex issue, and so I wanted to provide you with some background and context.

Dear Friend,

Since the internet’s creation decades ago by the U.S. government, it has seen tremendous growth and revolutionized the way we live. This incredible growth naturally caused the government to adapt how it oversaw aspects of the internet’s framework.

An important part of this framework is the domain name system, which helps organize web addresses and directs traffic on the internet.

The U.S. government transferred management of this system to ICANN – a California-based non-profit organization - in 1998. The government still retained oversight, but planned to completely phase out in the future.

In 2014, the Administration announced its intention to end the government’s oversight responsibilities and fully transfer them to ICANN. Critics of ending the government’s oversight feared that this transfer would relinquish U.S. control of the internet and allow repressive foreign governments to censor internet content. On the other hand, supporters viewed this transfer as strengthening the independence and freedom of the internet.

After a two year planning process, the U.S. government ended its remaining oversight responsibilities and transferred them to ICANN on October 1, 2016.

Sincerely,

Kay Granger
Member of Congress