Founded in 1998, with its headquarters located in the United States in Los Angeles, CA, ICANN is a non-profit group that essential manages the way domains and ip addresses on the web are managed and kept unique to ensure one global internet.
This is a United States non-profit with assets of nearly 100 million and revenue of 72 million dollars. Before we get into the current government looking at handing over ICANN to the United Nations, let’s explore what they do.
What is ICANN?
To keep it basic (as possible), ICANN is the organization that manages the way that domain names are managed. Each server has a number and each number has to be unique. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world to ensure that we can have one global internet. Without ICANN regulating domains, IP Addresses or numbers, the internet would become fragmented and further impossible to manage.
To reach another person on the Internet you have to type an address into your computer – a name or a number. That address has to be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world. Without that coordination we wouldn’t have one global Internet.
ICANN was formed in 1998. It is a not-for-profit partnership of people from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.
ICANN doesn’t control content on the Internet. It cannot stop spam and it doesn’t deal with access to the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet. – ICANN.org
This is a very needed role. While they do not regulate internet content, they do maintain lists of domain owners, registrations, and ensure proper allocation of numbers for the internet. The internet was born in the United States. In a time when most of our intellectual property is being stolen through data breaches and carelessness, our asset of the internet and our control and regulations maintain a steady income flow for the United States.
The United Nations and the ICANN Control Issue
The ACLA published an article on this topic and their introduction is very clear.
Imagine this dramatic scenario: the White House pushes for the United States to abandon its historic role as protector of the Internet, transferring the last vestige of that authority over to a private organization populated by international tech gurus. But the gurus also hold seven smartcards that could either restart the internal security framework of the entire Internet in the event of a catastrophe; or else they could disable it. America holds its breath to see how they will rule the most important communications platform in the history of the planet.
This is what it boils down to. The current Executive Branch of our government has no plan on how to provide ICANN an antitrust exception, which it has had for over a decade. It does not make sense in this case to have multiple companies regulating names and numbers and could cause a complete breakdown of the system. Anti-trust is to protect against competition. Many for profits have monopolies and they have found anti-trust protection. Presently, ICANN has a status of a legal monopolist, with a contract from the Commerce Department to regulate the internet.
If our government fails to renew their anti-trust protection, for the sake of the internet, ICANN may have to seek to be overseen by another governmental group to maintain exemption. This comes at a cost and it is not ICANN’s fault. Our management of the internet should stay where it was born in the United States.
Problems with UN Granting the Antitrust Exemtion
So, with the US not working to maintain the status it has had for nearly 20 years, ICANN may be forced to make decisions out of good intentions, that hold severe consequences for the United States. It has been recommended and proposed by authoritarian regimes that the ICANN become part of the U.N. to make their objection to censor the internet on a global level. This violates acts already established. Obama pledged that the U.S. would never be replaced by a inter-government solution and this is exactly that.
If you are a gambler, place a bet that UN control of ICANN would allow tyrannical regimes degree over the way Americans use the internet!
It is no lie that our government monitors our online usage, but should that be opened up, controlled and regulated by tyrannical regimes that are hoping that ICANN has no choice.
Many governments restrict access to a variety of web resources. Having information widely available is a great thing. In some countries the news is government controlled and all social media blocked to prevent those who disagree with the government. The UN could eliminate our freedom of speech without that intention, but with certain groups pushing for it… it is possible.
Presently, our congress has made a great choice to withhold funding for the Executive Branch’s transfer of power of ICANN. The problem is that their efforts end of this year. But it would be a slap in the face, if the United States government, having used American ingenuity and innovation to create the Internet in the first place, hands it over to the United Nations. Keep in mind that the internet was a project of the research under the arm of our Department of Defense, which was then made publicly operational back in 1985.
Now our current government, Executive Branch mostly, decides to abdicate its responsibility to protect and defend it.
If this happens, good-bye internet freedom.