The United States government has been managing the Domain Naming System –a key component of the Internet– for nearly 18 years, on October 1st, this responsibility will fall on ICANN’s (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) shoulder.
DNS system is responsible for the tracking and translation of human-readable names like TheMerkle.com or Google.com to an IP network address (comprised of numbers). The US government was in charge of administering the top-level root servers of such systems.
This change will go unnoticed by normal internet users –operations will not be altered–, but it represents an important event, as the global network has grown so large that such a vital part of it (DNS) shouldn’t be controlled by a single government entity.
The announcement was made by the US Department of Commerce:
For the last 18 years, the United States has been working with the global Internet multistakeholder community to establish a stable and secure multistakeholder model of Internet governance that ensures that the private sector, not governments, takes the lead in setting the future direction of the Internet’s domain name system.
The US government decision to privatize the DNS control was protested by some Republicans –members of the right-wing political party– like Ted Cruz who criticize the new arrangement, he argued that this initiative will give China and Russia more control over the internet.
Professor Alan Woodward from the University of Surrey, stated:
It marks a transition from an internet effectively governed by one nation to a multi-stakeholder governed internet: a properly global solution for what has become a global asset.
Until 1998 the DNS control was handled by one man, Jon Postel, nicknamed “the god of the internet” he single-handedly managed the assignation of new web addresses and served as a researcher of Internet related protocols. Postel died in 1998 and since then the US Government has been in full charge of the DNS.