The NTIA announced on Tuesday that it intends to allow the United States’ control over the Internet to expire on October 1st. This is a move that threatens to let more power fall into the hands of authoritarian governments.
In a statement, released on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) blog, the NTIA administrator, Larry Strickland, said, “Based on our review and barring any significant impediment, NTIA intends to allow the IANA functions contract to expire as of October 1.”
This will leave the Internet susceptible to authoritarian control.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Name and Numbers (ICANN), the organization in question, has repeatedly refused to comply with Senate requests for information on its relationship with the Chinese government. It also employs a former key member of Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak’s, government as an advisor.
“If NTIA doesn’t extend its contract with ICANN to administer the IANA functions Sept. 30, then all of the work that they’ve done since the beginning of 2016 in examining the transition would be in violation of the funding ban rider.”
A coalition of 25 interest groups signed on to a letter urging Congress to sue for this very purpose. NTIA has run afoul of an appropriations rider that, even Strickland admitted “does restrict NTIA from using appropriated dollars to relinquish our stewardship.”
This move by NTIA also comes in the midst of a debate in Congress to ensure all issues are ironed out and approved by the legislature before any definitive decision is made. This moves the timeline up significantly.