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Palin: Surrendering Internet Control 'Colossal Error'

Image: Palin: Surrendering Internet Control 'Colossal Error'

Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 07:00 AM

By Elliot Jager

The Obama administration's decision to turn over responsibility for Internet domain names to the international community was denounced by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a "colossal foreign policy error,"  Politico reported.

The U.S. has administered the database of domain names and addresses since the late 1990s through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. The administration has now tasked ICANN to come up with a plan for the shift.

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In a Facebook post, Palin said the decision was likely to have "long term negative repercussions for freedom." The administration was handing "a gift to authoritarian regimes who seek to stifle the freedom the Internet gives to voices around the world fighting for basic human rights."

Palin concluded her post: "No amount of Obama/liberal media spin can justify this."

Business Insider reported that China and Russia have been pushing for a more decentralized system for domain names and, possibly, for the U.N. to play a greater role.

The Commerce Department said it does not want the U.N. to take over and implied that the U.S. would not abdicate responsibility until a satisfactory system was in place, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The move is meant to restore confidence in U.S. firms providing cloud and other Internet services in the wake of the Edward Snowden affair, and reassure other countries that Washington is not out to dominate the Internet, the Journal reported.

Proponents say countries can block their citizens from easily accessing certain domain names, and that the private sector will have a positive influence on whatever new domain regime comes into play. Skeptics argue decentralization could lead to copyright infringements with sovereign countries using identical domain names, according to Business Insider.

"Make no mistake, this is a concession by the U.S.," wrote Gautham Nagesh of The Wall Street Journal. "While the Commerce Department rarely intervened publicly in ICANN's affairs, the implicit threat of its ability to do so will be gone. That could have an unforeseen impact in the future, particularly if cyber-weapons continue to play a larger role in military and counter-intelligence activities."

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