In November 2014, Li Yuxiao, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Cyberspace, stated, according to the state-run China Daily: “Now is the time for China to realize its responsibilities. If the United States is willing to give up its running of the internet sphere, the question comes as to who will take the baton and how it would be run.
“We have to first set our goal in cyberspace, and then think about the strategy to take, before moving on to refining our laws,” he said.
Li is now the head of a department designed to enforce the Chinese regime’s laws on technology companies. His comments are tied to a process announced by the United States in 2014 to relinquish control of the internet by ending the contract between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
This process is now nearing its completion, with a deadline of Oct. 1.
The handover is technically of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is a department of ICANN. It regulates domain name registrations for websites, handles the Domain Name System (DNS) Root Zone to ensure internet users are directed to the websites they intend to visit, and also handles internet protocols.
The integrity of DNS, in particular, is critical, since it can be used for cyberattacks that send people to fake, infected websites. It’s also one of the primary systems manipulated for state censorship that can block access to specific websites.
The United States plans for the internet to be run by a multistakeholder model without government oversight, and relinquishing control of ICANN will be the last step in this process.
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