Vint Cerf explains the story of the Internet

Voice Over Script for Vint Cerf explains the story of the Internet

Hi, I’m Vint Cerf. I’m a father of three children – David & Bennett and, well, the Internet.  And like any good father, I’m going to bend your ear with a story about my kid.

When the Internet was in its infancy, it was small and easy to deal with. It was a U.S. Defense Department project managed by Bob Kahn and me.

Back in the early days, my friend Jon Postel managed the directory that translates between names like and IP addresses. To go to a site, you typed the name, and hit “enter”, similar to the way you do now.  After you hit “Enter”, in milliseconds, letters you typed were translated into a series of numbers, called Internet Protocol addresses. They’re like street numbers, and they direct you to the website’s physical location on the Internet.

But the demand for new names and addresses grew much higher, and in 1998, at the urging of the White House, leaders in the Internet community created a non-profit, multi-stakeholder, global group called ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Its job is to coordinate and issue IP addresses and domain names, among other critical functions. Although ICANN is a non-profit organization, its governance is provided by a broad set of actors – governments, engineers, companies, and ordinary users – who all have a seat at the table.

There’s been some confusion about the United States’ role in creating ICANN.  Oversight of ICANN was assigned to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA.

IP addresses allocations are made by ICANN to five regional registries. It’s because of this decentralized approach that the U.S. primary role has decreased. And recently, NTIA has presented a plan to end its contractual oversight, and hand that responsibility over to ICANN. No one party, including the United States, controls the Internet.

The U.S. Government has been clear that in order for the NTIA transition to go through, non-governmental management of the Internet must continue. So the U.S. isn’t giving away authority, and even superpowers aren’t taking over in response. Instead, the US Government is completing its longstanding commitment to place control of the domain name and Internet address structure into the hands of an international multi-stakeholder community.

To sum it all up, the purity of your Internet experience will stay the same. The only thing that’s changing, is that we’re embracing a more democratic framework so the Internet can remain free and open.

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