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US government to privatise the Internet's domain name system

This assigns a unique identification number to each website.

Image: the internet via Shutterstock

THE UNITED STATES plans to hand over control of the system for assigning website addresses to a non-government entity, an government official has said.

The agency has asked the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to convene interested groups from around the world to develop a proposal to transition the system, said Lawrence Strickling, administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in a phone call with reporters today.

“We will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government or intergovernmental organization,” Strickling said.

Backbone

The move represents the final phase in the U.S. government’s effort to privatise the backbone of the Internet that provides websites with their unique identifiers, which are essential for users to find what they’re looking for online.
U.S. control over Internet functions has come under attack from privacy advocates and foreign governments in the wake of revelations about National Security Agency spying.

NTIA plans to allow its contract with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to expire on Sept. 30, 2015, Strickland said.

Unique codes

It isn’t clear yet what organization or groups will take over its responsibilities to maintain unique codes and numbering systems that are used in the technical standards that drive the Internet.

The U.S. is fulfilling a pledge it made as far back as 1998 to relinquish control of the Internet’s domain name system, Fadi Chehade, president and chief executive officer of ICANN, told reporters on the conference call.

“We thank the U.S. government for its stewardship, for its guidance over the years,” Chehade said.

“And we thank them today for trusting the global community to replace their stewardship with appropriate oversight mechanisms.”

-  © Bloomberg

Read: The web’s founder celebrates its 25th birthday by calling for net neutrality >

More: 25 years on from the invention of the web, this infographic shows some of us still aren’t convinced… >

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