September, 1969, (40 years ago), a group of American teachers sent the first message over the ARPANET, the precursor of today's Internet. Since then America has exercised control over the Internet - primarily in the area of addresses. But this is about to change.
As reported in the 26, September issue of The Economist, a substantial portion of America's influence over ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) will be transferred to oversight committees that "include representatives of foreign governments to conduct regular reviews of ICANN's work in four areas: competition among gereric domains (such as .com and .net), the handling of data on registrants, the security of network and transparency, accountability and the public interest..."
This could mean trouble for many associations: the money spent to establish an online brand could be 'lost;' more addresses means more to keep up with which means spending more time to plan, implement and maintain your on-line marketing and membership campaigns; additional political barriers that must be overcome by associations you want to expand their reach into other countries; new system protocals and equipment to maintain your e-business strategies; and much more.
The saving grace here is that more addresses may also equate to greater revenue opportunities. I could envision new addresses that help us better target potential members and customer. Whatever happens, forewarned is forearmed. Consider this a wake-up call as we go about our 2010+ planning.