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Net control

It's a myth that no one controls the internet. Until recently, it was American citizens; now governments are getting in on the act

In the four years since it was founded, the board of directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ICANN-the “UN of Cyberspace”-has held its meetings in the organisation’s hometown, a backwater of Los Angeles. It was there, for over two decades, that the internet’s underlying operations were co-ordinated by a single computer science professor, Jon Postel, funded by the Pentagon. He managed the addressing system and routing numbers that enable the internet to work. He was the dictator of the dot.

ICANN, backed by the US government, took over the role when Postel died in 1998. The…

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