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US Government No Longer In Charge Of Global Internet Address Book

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- For nearly two decades the United States government was in charge of the official list of website addresses. That is no longer the case.

Saturday, the list was put into the hands of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, also known as ICANN, a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles.

The plan has been in the works for many years, but it is not popular with some Americans. Several state attorney generals -- Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada and Texas -- even tried to stop it.

That's because ICANN is advised by a global committee that also includes China, Russia and Iran.

Opponents of the switch fear this will be remembered as the day America gave away the Internet. Senator Ted Cruz is one of them.

"Russia, and China, and Iran don't have a First Amendment." says Cruz. "They don't protect free speech, and they actively censor the Internet. ICANN could do the same thing, putting foreign countries in charge."

In a statement, ICANN's board chair Stephen Crocker said the fear is overblown and misguided. He called for "inclusion of all voices."

Ingrid Burrington is a tech writer and an expert on the infrastructure of the Internet. She agrees.

"Ted Cruz is under the impression that we owned the Internet to begin with, and we never really did," she says. "Tomorrow morning your Internet is going to keep working the same way."

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