As a clear result of the revelations of Edward Snowden’s documents on NSA spying and other countries’ distrust of the US Government, the Obama Administration has indicated that the Commerce Department will no longer be taking the responsibility of ICANN oversight, which they have been responsible for since the death of Jon Postel in 1998. Some questions are still being asked about his role in the internet’s creation and how he handled the internet during that time, as well as his mysterious death which ultimately led to the US government to controlling the oversight of the ICANN. After all, he did die the same year when he had proven to the Whitehouse that they couldn’t control the internet by singlehandedly highjacking it via a DNS root authority change.
Even so, as a result of the NSA revelations, many countries simply don’t trust the US to be the steward of the internet. Sure, people like Jon Postel and Tim Berners-Lee created the internet in the US, initially for the US, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Internet is now a global network that needs to be overseen by the whole world and not controlled by any individual country. Considering the importance of the Internet to today’s commerce and overall ability to function as a connected world, it seems logical that these countries would want to weigh in on oversight of the ICANN’s decisions. Especially when the current oversight is being done by the US Commerce Department rather than a board of members from different countries across the world.
The ICANN is also in the process of handling probably the biggest proliferation of new web domains in the history of the internet with the creation of dozens of new gTLDs which theoretically should enable the internet to become a bigger community. After all, right now, .com is the primary domain suffix and we’re simply running out of .com addresses or they’re just getting too long. So the introduction of specialized domains may enable companies, countries, and individuals to more easily represent themselves on the web than ever before. However, the transition from the US control of the ICANN oversight will likely only happen in September of 2015, which is towards the tail end of most of these new domains being released into the wild and given to various organizations, companies and individuals. It will be interesting to see how they change the oversight structure and how much they will oversee the new gTLDs.