National security and cyber threat experts wrote a letter to the Pentagon urging the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to intervene so that the United States doesn’t lose control of the Internet on Oct. 1.
Currently, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has authority over the Internet’s domain name system through a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, otherwise known as ICANN. The contract is set to expire on Sept. 30.
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"Upon expiration, the President will allow the Government’s remaining control over the Internet to transfer to ICANN," the experts wrote. "This includes the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function and NTIA’s review of all Internet Protocol addresses and authorization for them to be placed on the authoritative root server."
The experts warn that if the U.S. government is absent in its involvement of IANA, foreign powers will be able to influence it. "Even coercing the delay in approving IP addresses could impact military capabilities," the experts said. "Such a transfer of authority to ICANN could have far-reaching and undesirable consequences for untold members of people worldwide."
"Of more immediate concern to us, however, is the prospect that the United States might be transferring to future adversaries a capability that could facilitate, particularly in time of conflict, cyberwarfare against us," the experts write. "There is, to our knowledge, no compelling reason for exposing the national security to such a risk by transferring our remaining control of the Internet in this way at this time."
The experts end the letter urging the Pentagon to impress upon President Obama that the contract should not be terminated at this time and that the decision should be delayed.