The US government announced that it will cede control over the internet’s infrastructure to an international group of governments and private interest groups.

Currently, the master database of top-level domains, such as .com, is maintained by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the US Commerce Department. ICANN has now been tasked with convening a formal transition process that will “maintain the openness of the internet”, which it has said will be completed before the company’s contract expires in 2015.

Pressure has been increasing on the US to loosen its control since NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden leak documents showing how the US security and intelligence service were spying on the communications of innocent US citizens and politicians and diplomats around the world. Europe, China, and other powers around the world have pushed the US to relinquish control of the internet address system in an attempt to reassure the public that their personal communications can be secured from prying eyes in the US.

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