Last month, the Obama Administration announced that it would relinquish the last bit of formal control the U.S. government exercises over the Internet—control over the system that maps domain names to Internet addresses. A late-Friday announcement hinted at how controversial the Administration expected the announcement to be, and they weren't wrong. The plan has been pounded by criticism for weeks, culminating in a House hearing last Wednesday at which Congress hinted it might try to block the move.
But, as Jerry Brito points out, the likely candidate to get full control over the domain name system is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit created by the U.S. government in 1998 that today already manages the system under contract with the U.S. Indeed, the Administration's announcement is actually the culmination of a decades-long process of privatization.