An administration official has indicated the United States may loosen its control over the Internet. The statement comes as something of a surprise after last year?s announcement by the Bush administration that the U.S. has no intention of relinquishing authority over its own invention. World leaders and the UN had attempted to pressure the U.S. to do just that, and a conference was held in Tunisia to address the standstill.

This week John Kneuer, the acting assistant secretary for communications and information, made the surprise statement to an audience at the Commerce Department.

“I think the fact that we’re all gathered here today and we’ve undertaken this process is a clear indication that we are committed to this transition.”

Kneuer made reference to ICANN, the semi-autonomous nonprofit corporation that oversees domain names and Internet protocol addresses. ICANN is essentially the Internet?s governing body, and operates under an understanding with the U.S. government. Though the United States has rarely interfered with the organization, its ability to do so has been viewed as dangerous by people and governments around the world. As a form letter sent to the Commerce Department put it, “No single government should have a pre-eminent role in Internet governance.”

It remains unclear how sincerely the Bush administration plans this shift in policy, or even how it intends to implement it.

Read the story on C|Net News.

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