Internet Unleashed

ICANN escape


The U.S. Department of Commerce must love the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, because it is setting it free. ICANN, the California-based nonprofit organization that assigns Internet domains, such as .com, and country domains, such as .uk, is finally on its way to full privatization.

The U.S. has consistently fought off attempts to hand control of the corporation over to the United Nations or some other international governmental body, winning the most recent struggle just months ago. Under the new agreement, ICANN will avoid government oversight altogether. Exactly when ICANN will depart is unclear, but it may be free in as few as 15 months.

"It is not in the private sector's interests to have an inefficient Internet," says Paul Kane, chairman of the Council of European National Top-Level Domain Registries. The Internet, he adds, is "run by private networks interconnecting computers around the world" and deserves a chance to have a private life of its own.