Faculty Scholarship 1994 - Present

Regulating the Internet: Managing the World Wide Web, Why ICANN Can't

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been a controversial entity since its birth. ICANN is not a government agency; neither Congress, the president, nor any federal official established it (Koppel, 2005). In the current configuration, the U.S. government wields authority over ICANN through a series of memoranda of understanding that loosely define the relationship between ICANN, the operations of the DNS servers, and the Department of Commerce. At issue is the current U.S. government control of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an internationally organized, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for such Internet tasks as address space allocation and domain name system management. These services have been performed under a U.S. government contract, but the broad international involvement originally intended has eroded in the past few years, (Anderberg, 2005). Developing countries, particularly Brazil, India, and China, are challenging the current structure of Internet governance. The countries argue that ICANN lacks international legitimacy and that ICANN and other organizations tend to ignore developing countries in the formulation of policy (Koehler, 2005). A new mechanism for Internet governance would either redefine ICANN or replace it with a new international structure (Koehler, 2005). Should ICANN be changed or eliminated? This paper reviews and discusses the ongoing struggle for designing or revising the system for control of the Internet.