It’s that time of year again. Time to celebrate Data Privacy Day. You may think it is odd to celebrate such as day but whenever the focus is on keeping your privacy, private, we relish the opportunity. We applaud the discussion. It also brings to mind a critical issue that is percolating on the forefront of the international scene: control of the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Since ICANN began, it has evolved into a multinational body that has consistently performed critical functions to ensure the Internet we have come to rely on always works.

The most important function of ICANN is its ability to perform these critical functions continuously, and to perform them even better. It needs to constantly evolve as an operation that operates at Internet speed, not government speed.

Despite its name, ICANN does more than just assign and/or approve your website’s domain. It also upholds the security and validity of a website’s rightful owner. It has a Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) that “engages in ongoing threat assessment and risk analysis of the Internet naming and address allocation services to assess where the principal threats to stability and security lie, and advises the ICANN community accordingly.”

The most important function of ICANN is its ability to perform these critical functions continuously, and to perform them even better. It needs to constantly evolve as an operation that operates at Internet speed, not government speed.

Case in point: ICANN’s crucial role in data security in November 2013. It terminated the Registrar Agreement for the website Dynamic Dolphin, operated by Scott Richter, aka The Spam King. Richter once sent 100 million emails a day, the most notorious of which was an email selling the “most-wanted Iraqi” playing cards, which lured 40,000 unsuspecting victims into purchasing them, which ultimately allowed access to their financial data and computer files. When the application was filed for the site’s domain registration, the applicant did not disclose it was really for Scott Richter.

ICANN shut down Richter’s domain because of "material misrepresentation, material inaccuracy, or materially misleading statement(s)" regarding "the registrar's failure to disclose that Scott Richter was the CEO, director, and Secretary of the registrar since 2012" and "the registrar’s failure to disclose Scott Richter’s felony conviction” related to financial activities.

If your site were hijacked today — not an uncommon crime in the cyber world — you would go through law enforcement channels, your domain provider and, yes, ICANN to reassert yourself as its rightful owner.

When Heartbleed was discovered, businesses, cybersecurity companies and ICANN all knew their roles and acted together to mitigate the threat. They were in lockstep with an emergency call plan that has been mapped out through trial and error over the years.

These examples remind us that the most important function of ICANN is its ability to perform these critical functions continuously, and to perform them even better. It needs to constantly evolve as an operation that operates at Internet speed, not government speed.

ICANN cannot be used as a vehicle to hamper freedom of speech, expression of thoughts or accessibility. It needs to be free of political and national agendas and perform the critical functions it does in its current form. Clearly, Congress agrees.

Theresa Payton served as White House chief information officer for President George W. Bush.

The Honorable Howard A. Schmidt served as cyberadviser for President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush.