In a move considered by many to be more political that commonsensical, failed Republican presidential nomination hopeful Ted Cruz yesterday introduced a bill which would, if enacted, allow the United States to keep technical control over the Internet, rather than transitioning it to a global oversight mechanism.
Dubbed the “IANA transition” after the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority Function, which is basically administering the Internet root, this move towards ending the unique oversight the US has enjoyed over the technical Internet since its inception was initiated by the Obama administration through the agency in charge of Internet matters, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
The Cruz bill is grandiosely named the “Protecting Internet Freedom Act“. A read of its very first paragraph seems to contradict this lofty goal by stating the Bill is designed “To prohibit the National Telecommunications and Information Administration from allowing the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions contract to lapse unless specifically authorized to do so by an Act of Congress.”
Undeterred, NTIA today announced it is approving the proposed transition mechanism. “The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) finds that the IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal developed by the global Internet multistakeholder community meets the criteria NTIA set in March 2014,” it says in what can be seen as a direct response to the Cruz bill.
This NTIA announcement sets the scene for the transition to be enacted. As Cruz and others race to stop the transition from happening, the rest of the world can only sit back and watch as internal US politics determine the future of Internet Governance.