The advent of the Internet has virtually changed the lives of people. Now, whatever information one needs is just a click away. But ever wondered who actually owns the internet? Is it Google, some international body, or the government of the United States?
Since the advent of the World Wide Web, it has been controlled by the United States. But on October 1st, 2016 the US handed over its nearly two decades of control to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is a non-profit organization and is based in the US state of California. A creation of the US Department of Commerce, the ICANN, head quartered in Los Angeles, was established in 1998. Composed of world governments and companies, the ICANN was to eventually take over control of the World Wide Web from the government of the United States. With the handing over, the US gave away its control over the Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) to the ICANN. The IANA, which is now under the ICANN, was involved with the management of the domain name system (DNS). The domain name system is just like a phonebook. The responsibility of the DNS is to maintain a directory of domain names which are ultimately translated to the Internet Protocol addresses.
Earlier also IANA was being managed by the ICANN; nevertheless, the US government was in charge through the US National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA). The ultimate authority vested in the US government and it could overrule any decision taken up by the ICANN. Now, the dominance of the US government has ended and so has the tensions within the international community.
But, the handing over was not smooth as there were objections from many US lawmakers who felt that the end of US control was similar to handing over the internet to nations like China and Russia. There were also doubts that ICAAN will be in a position to disrupt and even censor online communications if it is given complete authority over the domain name system. There were also fears that with US control not there, some government domains pertaining to government or military would be at risk. Nevertheless, now the US nor any other nation have the sole power over the internet and countries around the globe can breathe easy.