Vint Cerf Calmly Explains Why You Should Stop Freaking Out About NTIA Handover Of ICANN

from the it-doesn't-mean-crap dept

Back in March, we wrote a story explaining why the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) decision to "relinquish" what little "power" it had over ICANN was no big deal. It's sort of an accident of history that NTIA (a part of the US Commerce Department) even had any "mandate" over the IANA functions -- which manages domain name allocations. The "control" over ICANN/IANA has always been mostly a paper thing. ICANN is really run by a large group of folks -- the so-called "multistakeholders." I think many of us can agree that ICANN policies are currently a mess, but that has nothing to do with the NTIA's technical connection to it.

If anything, the NTIA's paper link to ICANN only served to undermine the goals of good internet governance, because it allowed other countries to falsely imply that the US government "owned" or "controlled" the internet -- opening up dangerous attempts for foreign governments to try to really take control of the internet, wiping out the multistakeholder process and replacing it entirely by governments. That would be dangerous.

Unfortunately, as we expected when we wrote our original "this means absolutely nothing" post, some people decided to freak out about it. They've insisted that NTIA's move is the US handing over the internet, potentially to foreign governments. That those same individuals have previously insisted that things like "net neutrality" are the "government taking over the internet" -- and the inherent contradiction therein -- is never really mentioned. Unfortunately, some in Congress are trying to make a big deal out of this by totally misrepresenting what's been going on.

In response, the NTIA has told everyone to calm down, but the absolute best response has to be from the "father of the internet," Vint Cerf, the guy who set up ICANN in the first place, giving his best "knowing uncle storytime" explanation of why everyone should calm down about all of this, and how, if anything, it should lead to better oversight of the ICANN IANA process. Oh, and if you watch all the way through, you might just see Vint Cerf riding a grumpy cat under a double rainbow. Because this is the internet.

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