By Robert Romano || On March 14, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued a press release stating its intent to “transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community” from its current contractor, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The plan is to “transition the current role played by NTIA in the coordination of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS)” to “global stakeholders.” We would add, without any vote in Congress, but we’ll get to that in a moment. This is a big deal.

Administering the DNS is the key function that associates easy-to-remember domain names to numerical Internet Protocol (IP) addresses — the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) — an essential component to making the Internet work.

It is the critical choke point in terms of directing Internet traffic in a meaningful, authoritative manner. And, the U.S., which has administered this system at various levels for 45 years, is simply giving it away. Apparently, for nothing.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report from 2000 is highly informative on this topic. It states that DNS started at the Department of Defense in 1969 as ARPANET before being superseded by the National Science Foundation as NSFNET in 1990. In 1992, the Foundation was authorized by Congress to allow commercial activity on the Internet, enabling it to enter into a contract shortly thereafter with Network Solutions to sell domain names on a for-profit basis.

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Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.