US Announces Plan to Give Up Control Over Internet Plumbing


Well, this is interesting:

U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet, a move likely to please international critics but alarm many business leaders and others who rely on smooth functioning of the Web.

Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance last year.

I won’t pretend I’m thrilled about this, even if it was probably inevitable at some point. Whatever else you can say about the United States and the leverage its intelligence community gets from control over internet plumbing, it’s also true that the US has been a pretty competent and reliable administrator of the most revolutionary and potentially subversive network ever invented. Conversely, global organizations don’t have a great track record at technocratic management, and world politics—corrosive at best, illiberal and venal at worst—could kill the goose that laid the golden egg. I certainly understand why the rest of the world chafes at American control, but I nonetheless suspect that it might be the best of a bad bunch of options.

Then again, maybe not. There are also plenty of global standards-setting organizations that do a perfectly good job. Slowly and bureaucratically, maybe, but that’s to be expected. Maybe ICANN will go the same way. We’ll see.

In any case, I think we can expect Republicans to go ballistic over this.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.