The Register carries a scary story I have not seen reported elsewhere. Kieren McCarthy’s piece suggests that the independence of the internet may be one more casualty of the ‘war on terror’:
on 28 July 2005 at a special board meeting [...] consciously and for the first time, ICANN used a US government-provided reason to turn over Kazakhstan’s internet ownership to a government owned and run association without requiring consent from the existing owners. The previous owners, KazNIC, had been created from the country’s Internet community.
ICANN then immediately used that “precedent” to hand ownership of Iraq’s internet over to another government-run body, without accounting for any objections that the existing owners might have.
Previously it had always been the case that ICANN would take no action (and only ICANN, through IANA, can actually change ownership of a ccTLD) unless both sides were in complete agreement. Now, ICANN had set itself up as the de facto world authority on who should run different parts of the Internet. The Iraq situation is more complicated than briefly outlined above (of which more later), but in a little under two hours, the ICANN Board set aside a process that had held since the very earliest days of the Internet. Not only that but it provided governments with instant, unassailable control over what happens under their designated area of the internet.
You have to read the whole thing, but the burden is that, far from preserving the net from the dictator’s club at the UN – a posture applauded by Samizdatistas here – the US has provided the political mechanism for its nationalisation. And that merely in order to do a couple of favours for client regimes.