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U.S. Moves to Privatize Oversight of Internet Domain Name System
In response to the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) decision to support the global internet community's proposal to fully privatize oversight over the key functions that control the Domain Name System (DNS) and allow data to be sent among connected devices, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“NTIA’s announcement brings us another step closer to ensuring that the internet remains an open platform not dominated by a single entity—whether it be a government, the private sector, or any other force,” said Sanja Kelly, director of the Freedom on the Net project. “The current U.S. government oversight of the central DNS functions is largely symbolic but has given authoritarian regimes cover for demanding greater regulation of the internet through the UN and other international bodies. The current plans for privatization include strong safeguards to prevent that from happening, but close public attention will remain critical to make sure the plan unfolds as intended."
The U.S. government has held formal control over key DNS functions through a contract between NTIA and the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In March 2014, the United States announced its intention to transition its oversight role to a global multi-stakeholder community. Now that NTIA has signed off on the transition plan, ICANN has until mid-August to address outstanding issues identified in NTIA's review.
The contract between ICANN and NTIA expires at the of September. The final decision on ending the agreement is expected by the end of August.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.