July 21, 2016

Republican party manifesto opposes US handover of internet control to ICANN

The party platform states that China, Russia, Iran will “devour” the web after IANA transition

The move of the internet’s basic technical functions from the US government to an independent technical body has come under further attack after the Republican Party officially announced that it would block it on Monday.

The Republican Platform for 2016  was publicly approved during what was a chaotic session of the party’s national convention in Cleveland. The 66 pages of policy positions included what it dubbed its stance on “Protecting Internet Freedom.”

The planned move to transition ultimate control of IANA from the US Department of Commerce (DoC) to non-profit DNS overseer ICANN comes under attack from the Republican party.

“The survival of the internet as we know it is at risk,” it starts. “Its gravest peril originates in the White House, the current occupant of which has launched a campaign, both at home and internationally, to subjugate it to agents of government.”

It also attacked Obama by stating that “He has unilaterally announced America’s abandonment of the international internet by surrendering US control of the root zone of web names and addresses. He threw the internet to the wolves, and they – Russia, China, Iran, and others – are ready to devour it.”

IANA, a department of ICANN, oversees the world’s DNS, IP address allocation and networking protocols and keeps the internet glued together. ICANN runs IANA for the US government under contract. From September 30, it is planned that control of IANA will transition to fall entirely under ICANN’s remit, removing the US government from the equation. The transition plan has been drawn up by the internet community over the course of two years and while it is far from perfect, the plan is backed by all sections of that community, from business to technical bodies to civil society and governments.

Some Republican party representatives have long been opposed to the move, painting the long-planned transition as handing over control of the internet to foreign governments. While those fears appear unfounded, some are concerned that ICANN is not sufficiently mature to take on this responsibility.

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