Two years ago, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is housed within the Commerce Department, said it would no longer provide oversight for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)—a nonprofit entity, based in Los Angeles, that coordinates key functions of the global internet, including the net’s Domain Name System. The move would mean that the United States government would be relinquishing a key nexus of control over the web.
In June, the agency announced that it would proceed with a plan developed by ICANN to move to an international, “multi-stakeholder” mode of control for the organization. ICANN itself will now be in charge of online addresses’ technical requirements, while oversight will be divided across the international community in hopes of quelling concerns about single-nation rule.
Republicans opposed the move, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) calling it a “threat to the internet as we know it” and warning that the Obama administration was planning “to give away the internet to an international body akin to the United Nations.” Others have warned that it may be illegal, with the libertarian policy group TechFreedom raising the possibility of a lawsuit.
“In the event that Representatives prove unable to provide the requisite authority required to defend these interests,” the group said in a September statement to Politico, “then we will explore all remaining options, including legal action brought by the people that Congress represents.”