The US will finally be handing over the naming system of the World Wide Web more specifically known as the Domain Naming System or DNS to nonprofit organisation Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), on 1 October. The confirmation brings to an end the 20-year process involving the handing over a crucial part of the internet’s governance that had been with the US for a long time.
“ICANN has informed the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) that is has completed or will complete all the necessary tasks called for in the transition proposal by the end of the contract term. NTIA has thoroughly reviewed the report and informed ICANN that based on that review and barring any significant impediment, NTIA intends to allow the functions contract to expire as of October 1” reads a post on the NTIA website.
For those not familiar with the technicality of DNS, it is basically the internet’s equivalent of a phone book in which a directory of domain names is maintained. It pairs easy-to-remember web addresses (For example:) with their relevant servers; without the DNS people can only access a website by typing in its IP address, which is just a series of numbers like “126.96.36.199”.
Although Icann was established in 1988 to coordinate the use of domain names across the globe, it was overseen and administered by the US Department of Commerce, in effect putting the US in charge of governing the website naming system. Now, following agreement of terms and conditions through several rounds of negotiations, most of which were to satisfy the US, the country will give up this power to Icann.
Will it affect users?
Will the change of hands make a difference to users? Not really, considering Icann has been doing the job for years, and now has only become autonomous and independent.
However, there are some within the US political setup who are not happy with the decision taken during the Obama administration’s tenure. They say it is like opening the doors to the likes of China and Russia to meddle with a system that has always been “protected” by the US. But, Icann will technically still be located in the US as it is based in Los Angeles, although the chief governor of the worldwide web naming system, will finally lose the “keys to the kingdom” from 1 October 2016.