Administration denies 'abandoning the Internet'

The Department of Commerce on Wednesday rejected charges that is abandoning the open Internet by relinquishing oversight of the domain name system.

"This announcement in no way diminishes our commitment to preserving the Internet as an engine for economic growth and innovation," Larry Strickling, administrator of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), said in an agency blog post.

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Last week, the Commerce agency announced that it would begin a process to give up its oversight of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which manages the technical side of the Web address system. Currently, that system is managed by the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) under a contract with the Commerce Department that has to be renewed every two years.

The Commerce agency said last week that ICANN would bring together Internet stakeholders to develop a plan to transition oversight over IANA from the U.S. government to a more global entity.

While some say the move will lead to a more globalized Internet, others — including Republicans in Congress and at the Federal Communications Commission — want to watch the transition carefully to assure it doesn't lead to more control in the hands of countries that oppose an open and global Internet.

"Our announcement has led to some misunderstanding about our plan with some individuals raising concern that the U.S. government is abandoning the Internet," Strickling said in his Wednesday blog post. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

He repeated his assurances that the U.S. government won't hand over its oversight role to governments that have tried to restrict the open Internet.

"I have emphasized that we will not accept a proposal that replaces NTIA’s role with a government-led or an inter-governmental solution," he said.

"Until the community comes together on a proposal that meets these conditions, we will continue to perform our current stewardship role."