The internet is a global digital space but some of its technical management is controlled by the U.S. government—the Commerce Department, to be exact—since it was created in the United States. All that is scheduled to change on Oct. 1 when the U.S. Commerce Department will pass the reins to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based nonprofit that manages internet domains.
With some Republican lawmakers in Congress trying to halt this transition, several major technology companies (e.g. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Cloudflare and Yahoo) have come together to write a letter calling for a more globally controlled Internet. The joint letter issued Tuesday urges Congress not to hinder the "imperative" change.
"A global, interoperable and stable Internet is essential for our economic and national security, and we remain committed to completing the nearly twenty year transition to the multi stakeholder model that will best serve U.S. interests," reads the letter, reports Reuters.
Those opposed to the handover argue that online freedom is in jeopardy since authoritarian governments will have input. Lawmakers who want to keep the technical management of the Internet in U.S. control are working towards blocking the upcoming shift in power. The opposition is led by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has called the handover a “giveaway of our Internet freedom.”
Those in favor—the likes of tech companies, experts and academics—maintain that keeping the Internet global and an open space requires having multiple countries involved in the management.
"Because the proposal roots the accountability responsibility in the various stakeholder communities, that is one of the defenses against capture by any single constituency," Alissa Cooper, a U.S.-based network engineer who chairs the group coordinating the IANA transition, told Reuters. "The proposal does a good job of maintaining the aspects of the current system that have been working well and carrying them forward to the future."