The internet today is far bigger and more inextricably linked to our daily lives than its creators in the 1970s and 1980s could have imagined. So perhaps it is not surprising that some of the structures put in place decades ago may have failed to keep pace with its rapid evolution.
Chief of these is perhaps the nonprofit organisation ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is responsible for the key roles of assigning the unique internet protocol (IP) addresses that locate individual websites on the net, and managing the domain name system (DNS), which translates the human-readable web addresses we type (such as www.theconversation.com) into IP addresses (such as 126.96.36.199). Its policy decisions have an important impact on the internet's evolution, for example the recent expansion of top level domain names.
However, since ICANN was established in 1998 its contractual links with the US Department of Commerce have led to criticism of a perceived US and Anglo-centric bias. Controversies such as the original rejection of the .xxx domain name for pornography led to criticism that the US had too much sway over ICANN's decisions, and calls for ICANN to disassociate itself from the US, or be replaced with a truly independent, global agency, increased.