The Commerce Department has agreed to lessen its oversight of the Internet, a move celebrated by critics who’ve been campaigning in recent years to internationalize control of the network.
ICANN, the nonprofit corporation that essentially oversees the Internet, will become more autonomous as a result of the agreement announced Friday. Critics have decried the United States’ historical veto power over the infrastructure it created, as the network has since become a crucial throughway for international commerce and communication.
The “joint project agreement” signed Friday is meant to be the last of six that have given ICANN the authority to keep the Internet running since 1998.
John M. R. Kneuer, the Commerce Department acting assistant secretary for communications and information, said other countries “should draw some heart” from the latest agreement’s goal to allow ICANN to become a private-sector organization.
“Private-sector management of the Internet is demonstrably effective,” he said in an interview. “The Internet has become a massive global source of innovation and commerce, and all of that is because the DNS system has been running uninterrupted.”
DNS refers to the domain name system, which is managed by ICANN through 13 so-called root computer servers and provides an address system that lets any computer on the network find any other one and pass along data traffic like e-mail messages and Web pages nearly instantaneously.