U.S. regulators are ready to complete a planned handover of the internet naming system to a private group this weekend. However, the plan isn't without a bit of last-minute drama.
Attorneys general from Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada, and Texas filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday seeking to block the transfer of naming rights to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit group based in Los Angeles, California.
A judge is expected to rule Friday and if the lawsuit is dismissed, ICANN will assume control of the domain naming system.
Why Is the Government Stepping Aside?
The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications & Information Administration officially has authority over the domain name system, but has mostly let ICANN run the show since 1998 — since the decision to give ICANN the keys to the kingdom has been the plan all along.
In a 1998 policy statement, the NTIA said it was committed to a transition that would let the private sector take over management of the domain name system.
With ICANN maturing as an organization, officials announced in March 2014 their intention to work with ICANN to create a plan to transition the system.
Over 33,000 emails have been exchanged and more than 800 hours have been spent in meetings discussing the transition, according to ICANN,
Why the Naming System Matters
Names on the internet allow us to type in NBCNews.com, as opposed to a string of numbers.
Who's Challenging the Handover
Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz have both been vehement opponents of the plan to formally hand over control to ICANN.
Trump's campaign issued a statement alleging the move would jeopardize internet freedom.
"The U.S. created, developed and expanded the internet across the globe. U.S. oversight has kept the internet free and open without government censorship — a fundamental American value rooted in our Constitution's Free Speech clause," the Trump campaign said.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, one of the parties suing to stop the handover, called it a "half-baked transfer," saying there are "too many questions that remain unresolved before the U.S. government hands over stewardship of the internet to an unaccountable group of international stakeholders."
Despite the last minute drama and opposition, internet users should not notice a difference no matter what happens.