May 27, 2017

I, For One, Welcome Our Internet Overlords

imagesAs reported in the Economist, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is trying to go global. That is, it is attempting to shed any remaining ties to an individual country (*cough* the US) and become truly independent.

I heartily welcome this, as no country should be able to control something that has a worldwide impact like the Internet has achieved. Certainly not the United States, which has a very poor track record of keeping our hands off.

To back up a bit, ICANN is the agency that handles the essential plumbing that keeps the Internet functioning — the registry of Internet addresses and domain names. Simply put, if ICANN chooses to no longer resolve a request for any given Internet address (say, whitehouse.gov) to its numeric location on the Internet, then for all intents and purposes it no longer exists. So independence from governments is a good thing. 

But as the Economist also points out, there are forces here in the US that would block such independence — largely, or exclusively, Republican. This should not be allowed to happen. The ICANN needs its independence, but no more than we do. Our very existence as a free people may depend upon it.

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Roy Tennant About Roy Tennant

Roy Tennant is a Senior Program Officer for OCLC Research. He is the owner of the Web4Lib and XML4Lib electronic discussions, and the creator and editor of Current Cites, a current awareness newsletter published every month since 1990. His books include "Technology in Libraries: Essays in Honor of Anne Grodzins Lipow" (2008), "Managing the Digital Library" (2004), "XML in Libraries" (2002), "Practical HTML: A Self-Paced Tutorial" (1996), and "Crossing the Internet Threshold: An Instructional Handbook" (1993). Roy wrote a monthly column on digital libraries for Library Journal for a decade and has written numerous articles in other professional journals. In 2003, he received the American Library Association's LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Excellence in Communication for Continuing Education. Follow him on Twitter @rtennant.