(POLITICO) — The Obama administration’s decision to relinquish oversight over the group that manages the Internet’s architecture has raised an early red flag with Republicans, who blast the move as a threat to free speech.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has managed the Web’s domain-name system under contract with the U.S. government for more than a decade — but the Los Angeles-based nonprofit has worked to transform itself into a global organization free of U.S. ties. European Union officials backed the globalization effort, which intensified with Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA’s sprawling surveillance programs.

The United States has always played a leading role in overseeing the management of .com and other domain names, but the administration announced Friday night that it will give up its oversight when the current contract expires in fall 2015. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, last month proposed establishing “a clear timeline” for globalizing ICANN and the duties it performs under the U.S. contract.

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