The US government is set to cut the final thread of its oversight of the internet, yielding a largely symbolic but nevertheless significant role over the online address system.
Barring any last-minute glitches, the transition will occur at midnight Friday (0400 GMT Saturday), when the US contract expires for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which manages the internet’s so-called “root zone.”
When the agreement with the US Commerce Department runs out, ICANN will become a self-regulating non-profit international entity managing the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, the system for online “domains” such as .com.
US and ICANN officials say the change is part of a longstanding plan to “privatize” those functions, but some critics complain about a “giveaway” that could threaten the internet’s integrity.
Christopher Mondini, ICANN’s vice president for global business engagement, said the change will have no impact on day-to-day internet use, and will assure the global community that the system is free from government regulation and interference.
“This is a new kind of governance model,” he told AFP.
The system will be managed through a “multistakeholder” model in which engineers, businesses, non-government groups and government bodies serve as checks against any single entity.
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