If you like your Internet, you may not be able to keep it

Jim Blasingame

The Internet, created and managed by the U.S. government from the 1960s to the 1990s, is clearly the most dramatic and successful example of technology transfer from government to private sector.

That transfer began in 1993 when the world was first allowed to use the Internet for commercial purposes. At that point, Internet governance and management was contractually transferred from the government to a contractor, Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI).

The NSI agreement was a lucrative one because it conveyed a monopoly on the management, sale, and distribution of top level domain names, e.g., xyz.com. In response to various political pressures, as the contract expired in 1998, the Clinton administration approved the creation of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a U.S.-based, non-profit entity formed to replace NSI. It’s important to note that, again, this transfer of control to a new contractor maintained U.S. default ownership.

Although ICANN is a U.S. company, it operates through a democratic structure with input from executives, committees, and overseeing entities representing 110 countries. Nevertheless, for years various global interests have resented and coveted the ultimate control the U.S. has maintained over the Internet, not the least of which is the United Nations.

Alas, the Obama administration is now proceeding to divest the U.S. of its ultimate authority over the Internet more than a year before the current ICANN agreement expires. As reported by Steve DelBianco, Executive Director of Netchoice.org, the Commerce Department has instructed ICANN to create a “global, multistakeholder community, and expects ICANN to develop that entity.”

As the U.S. government relinquishes an asset we did build and govern to the free, equitable, and non-political benefit of everyone on the planet, consider four troubling possibilities:

  1. The transition being executed would leave ICANN responsible only to itself.
  2. Ultimate control of the Internet would be decided without the default authority and honest stewardship of the U.S.
  3. Future controlling interests could be influenced by geopolitics.
  4. The U.N. could become the “owner” of the Internet. And when that happens, your business will have to pay the GIT, Global Internet Tax.

Every individual and business should be extremely concerned about the implications of the decision to divest the U.S. of this invaluable asset.

Write this on a rock …The implications of this transfer of Internet control makes the 1977 Panama Canal transfer look like the sale of a kid’s lemonade stand.

For a short video from Jim on this topic, click here.

Jim Blasingame is creator and host of the Small Business Advocate Show. Copyright 2014, author retains ownership. All Rights Reserved.

Print page