Trying to figure out who really runs the Internet or owns it, is pretty much impossible. The Internet is delivered by thousands of companies to billions of people on the back of a world-spanning infrastructure. At best you could say that the Internet belongs to the United States, since that is where it originated, and that is where the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) resides.
IANA is a department with the Department of Commerce, and is responsible for allocating global IP addresses and managing the global Domain Name System. It’s probably the closest thing the Internet has to a central authority. However, it’s not going to be American for much longer.
In 2014 the Department of Commerce decided to give IANA away to international authorities, and since then IANA has been slowly transitioning out of the control of our government. Beginning on October 1st of this year, it will be under the full control of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit corporation with representatives from 111 different countries.
The problem with this, is that the US government can’t hand over federal property without the approval of Congress, which they don’t have in this case. More importantly, opponents of this move fear that once the Internet is no longer under US control, oppressive countries like China will be able to exert more control over the Internet. They’ll be able to pressure US Internet companies to aid in censoring large swaths of the Internet.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger.