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US government to loosen control of ‘broken’ ICANN?

Reports suggest that the ICANN/US government relationship will not be as close in the future.

ICANN logo

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees the allocation of web addresses, is to lose its close relationship with the American government, according to reports.

Since 1998, ICANN and the US government have worked under a Joint Project Agreement JPA), with critics arguing that ICANN lacked bilateral oversight. In a statement released in June, the European Commission said "private companies should continue to take the lead in the day-to-day management of the operation of the internet, as long as they are accountable and independent."

"The US government is the only body to have had formal oversight of ICANN's policies and activities since its inception in 1998. As the Joint Project Agreement is ending now, the Commission believes that ICANN should become universally accountable, not just to one government but to the global internet community," the statement continued.

A report in the Economist claims that ICANN's new mandate "will pass some of its authority over ICANN to the 'internet community' of businesses, individual users and other governments." Which governments will get control, and how much, remains to be seen.

The report also suggests that the new mandate has "no fixed term", unlike the old one, which expires today. The new mandate is described as "an affirmation of commitments" between ICANN and the US Department of Commerce.

The European Commission isn't the only organisation calling for ICANN reform. The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA), a Washington-based organisation, released a statement last week claiming that ICANN was "broken", and proposing a "full-scale audit" of the non-profit organisation.

CADNA accuses ICANN of ignoring "issues regarding the safety and stability of the Internet, such as the proliferation of cybersquatting" and increasing online risks by "irresponsibly releasing new generic top-level domains."

Instead of releasing ICANN to the business and global community, CADNA calls for a renewal of the current JPA and the creation of a federal commission to evaluate ICANN.

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