A federal judge this afternoon rejected the last-minute bid by Attorney General Mark Brnovich to block the Department of Commerce from giving up its oversight of the organization that coordinates internet names and addresses.
In a brief order, U.S. District Court Judge George Hanks Jr. refused to issue the injunction that Brnovich had sought. That paved the way for transfer of control of the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers at midnight tonight to an international consortium.
In his pleadings, Brnovich argued that allowing the transfer to go through would harm First Amendment rights of Americans and create opportunities for hostile foreign governments to wreak havoc with the Internet.
But Hanks instead sided with attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice who said Brnovich was being alarmist.
In their own filings, the federal attorneys called Brnovich’s fear of harm “speculative at best and rests entirely on hypothetical future actions of third parties.” And the government’s lawyers said the complaint Brnovich filed on behalf of himself and attorneys general from other states “is full of ‘coulds’ and ‘mays,’ as they cannot identify a single specific and real harm that will befall them.”
There was also the question of whether the judge, sitting in Texas, actually had jurisdiction to hear this complaint.
And it also didn’t help that the lawsuit was filed late Wednesday night asking Hanks to stop a transfer that for months has been set to take place at midnight today night.
A private organization, ICANN has operated for years under a contract with the federal government to coordinate what essentially is a phone book of unique numbers assigned to Internet sites. It also controls the “root zone file” of domains, essentially ways to get to specific sites by their name rather than a number.