Perhaps a reaction to concerns over spying and other abuses, the United States will relinquish its oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The announcement promises to transition control away from the Commerce Department and toward a new international body of “stakeholders.”

The Internet is truly an international network, and it makes little sense to have it controlled, ultimately, by a national department, but some existing stakeholders, according to The Washington Post, are worried about the network’s future stability.

Regardless, this move was inevitable. For those who don’t work in or around the Web, or never succumbed to that late night temptation to register a domain name, ICANN’s primary responsibility is making sure that different users on the network can find each other. One of the organization’s more controversial decisions has been to approve the use of 1,300 or so new domains, adding .gay, .vote and the Chinese characters for “I love you” to the existing list of .com, .org, .edu, .net and the various country domains. The very American- and English-centric standard of navigating the Web is just one byproduct of American control (and invention). New addresses can be written in other languages, including Hindi, Cyrillic and Korean.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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