For the past decade America has delegated some of its authority over the internet to a non-profit organisation called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)—an arrangement other countries have complained about, both because they have little say in it and because ICANN’s management has occasionally proved erratic. ICANN’s latest mandate is due to expire on September 30th. The day before, a new accord is planned to come into effect, whereby America will pass some of its authority over ICANN to the “internet community” of businesses, individual users and other governments.
Previous agreements had maintained close American oversight over ICANN and imposed detailed reforms, but the latest document, called an “affirmation of commitments”, is only four pages long. It gives ICANN the autonomy to manage its own affairs. Whereas prior agreements had to be renewed every few years, the new one has no fixed term.