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The Last Days of Cheap Domain Names: U.S. Giving Up Control over ICANN
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The world might be coming to the last days of cheap domain names, or easily purchasable domain names, because the U.S. is handing over control of assigning website addresses to a non-government entity. The move, which is described as the final phase of an effort to privatize and globalize the management of domain names, would push domain name assignment control into the hands of international groups and national governments claiming say over assignment of their local top level domains.

In short, for those in emerging economies that maintain a regime of incongruous permits and licenses, what costs a few dollars and a few clicks today, may cost huge amounts of time, money, red tape and cajoling one’s way through the corridors of corruption just to get a domain name. Chinese bloggers floating websites at ease, and Indian small businesses putting up websites without obtaining licenses and permissions from their government authorities, are certain to become things of the past.


Even though the U.S. Congress has always favored a global Internet free from government control, and a new telecommunications treaty at a United Nations conference was not signed by the Obama administration and other nations fearing Internet regulation and censorship by governments, it is difficult to see how groups without government influence and backing can maintain the Internet.

The ICANN, which has managed the system under a U.S. government contract set to expire in 2015, is fervently seeking international groups to develop a solution for transitioning the system. It intends to begin the consultation process at a meeting this month in Singapore.

While the contract with the U.S. government would have ended anyway in 2015, hopes of renewing it were lost under the pressure of international bodies and national governments. Nations in the European Union have stated their wish for more global supervision, and governments in emerging economies are more than happy to find new ways to assert bureaucratic authority on businesses.

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And the U.S. seems only too happy to surrender its stewardship.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, said in a statement, “Since 1998, the U.S. has been committed to transitioning management of the Internet’s domain name system to an independent entity that reflects the broad diversity of the global Internet community.” He said the announcement from the government “is the next phase in the transition.”


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