US tech firms urge Congress to allow Internet domain changeover

Source:Reuters-Global Times Published: 2016/9/17 5:03:41

Major technology companies including Facebook, Google and Twitter are urging Congress to support a plan for the US government to cede control of the Internet's technical management to the global community, they said in a joint letter dated on Tuesday.

The US Commerce Department has primary oversight of the Internet's management, largely because it was invented in the US.

Some Republican lawmakers are trying to block the handover to global stakeholders, which include businesses, tech experts and public interest advocates, saying it could stifle online freedom by giving voting rights to authoritarian governments.

The years-long plan to transfer oversight of the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is scheduled to occur on October 1 unless Congress votes to block the handover.

The California-based corporation operates the database for domain names such as .com and .net and their corresponding numeric addresses that allow computers to connect.

In the September 13 letter, a copy of which had been reviewed by Reuters before it was sent, the technology companies said it was "imperative" that Congress does not delay the transition.

"A global, interoperable and stable Internet is essential for our economic and national security, and we remain committed to completing the nearly twenty year transition to the multi stakeholder model that will best serve US interests," the letter said.

Other signatories include Amazon, Cloudflare, Yahoo and several technology trade organizations.

The US government announced its intention to relinquish control of Internet administration in March 2014, and set an initial deadline of September 2015, according to a report from tech news portal zdnet.com on Tuesday.

Tech companies, technical experts and academics have said the transition is overdue and necessary to keep the Internet open and globally oriented, and that the proposal includes safeguards against any potential abuse by any one country.

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