ICANN Surrenders, Will Share Oversight

The U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday agreed to share more control of the governing body that oversees Internet domain names with other countries.

Since 1998, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has operated under an agreement with the Commerce Department. ICANN was intended to transition Web authority from the U.S. government to the private sector but it had been reluctant to do so. Until now.

“We’ve hit our target after 11 years and we’re now mature enough to move on to the next phase of our global development,” ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom said in a prepared statement.

The move should alleviate complaints from other countries, which often have felt left out of critical Internet decisions as the world has grown digitally connected. Dissent grew as, for example, ICANN was slow to allow non-English characters in domain names.

The U.S. government retains a key oversight role in ICANN but internal ICANN reporting now will fall to reviewers chosen by one of the organization’s advisory committees.

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