No, Barack Obama Isn’t Handing Control of the Internet Over to China

On March 14, the U.S. government announced that it would seek to relinquish a privileged role in the management of Internet names and numbers. An organization called ICANN — the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — is to continue doing what it’s doing without maintaining an ongoing contract with the Department of Commerce to do it.And what does ICANN do? It helps keep IP addresses in order, ensuring that each address — used to let parties on the Internet identify one another — is not assigned more than once. And it facilitates the addition of “top level domains,” those suffixes like .com, .org, .uk, and more recently, .clothing, which, with a concatenation of names to their left, become the names for nearly all online destinations, including A receding role for the U.S. government has been anticipated for over a decade, and the move is both wise and of little impact. Some reaction has been surprisingly alarmist.A Wall Street Journal columnist described it as “America’s Internet surrender.” Said one member of Congress: “Giving up control of ICANN will allow countries like China and Russia, that don’t place the same value in freedom of speech, to better define how the internet looks and operates.”

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