U.S. Plans to Relinquish IANA Contract in 2015

The NTIA has just announced that it plans to turn its IANA functions contract counterparty role over to “the global multistakeholder community” when the current contract expires at the end of September 2015.

As for who exactly constitutes the global multistakeholder community – well that is to be left to a process that starts with ICANN convening  “global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the current role played by NTIA in the coordination of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS)”. It is not clear whether this means that ICANN should fulfill this role through its regular public meetings, through the NETmundial meeting that is being held at ICANN’s request next month in Sao Paulo, Brazil, or by other means.

Specific parties that NTIA wants ICANN to collaborate with in fashioning a transition plan include “the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the Internet Society (ISOC), the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), top level domain name operators, VeriSign, and other interested global stakeholders”.

Aside from the specific technical functions carried out pursuant to the IANA contract, its renewal has provided leverage that puts teeth into  the Affirmation of Commitments (AOC) entered into between ICANN and the U.S. in 2009. The AOC requires ICANN to have a process dedicated to improving its accountability and transparency, and also requires it to remain headquartered in the United States.

According to the press release:                      

NTIA has communicated to ICANN that the transition proposal must have broad community support and address the following four principles:

  • Support and enhance the multistakeholder model;
  • Maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet DNS;
  • Meet the needs and expectation of the global customers and partners of the IANA services; and,
  • Maintain the openness of the Internet.

Accountability and transparency, the continuation or replacement of the AOC, and remaining headquartered in the U.S. are all conspicuous in their absence from those principles – and that is worrisome.

It is somewhat heartening that the release notes that “NTIA will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an inter-governmental organization solution”. However, there is no reason to presume that this will be the final transition of IANA and ICANN control, or that the governments who favor multilateral over multistakeholder control will retreat from that position. The question then arises whether the new multistakeholder recipient of the IANA contract will be more vulnerable to a future UN, ITU, or another form of multilateral takeover once the U.S. has fully relinquished its role and disengaged from ICANN.

The NTIA release also appears to presume that relinquishing the IANA contract can be accomplished by the Executive Branch without any explicit authorization from Congress. However, that is an open legal question and groups that have concerns about this turnover may well encourage Congress to wade in. There is good reason to believe that if Congressional concerns are voiced they will be bipartisan.

Shortly after the NTIA made its announcement, ICANN issued its own press release stating that it had just “launched a process to transition the role of the United States Government relating to the Internet’s unique identifiers system”.

It continues:

“We are inviting governments, the private sector, civil society, and other Internet organizations from the whole world to join us in developing this transition process,” said Fadi Chehadé, ICANN’s President and CEO. “All stakeholders deserve a voice in the management and governance of this global resource as equal partners.”

It is not at all clear whether this transition process will build upon the existing 1NET and Cross-Constituency Working Group (CCWG) processes launched in the wake of last fall’s Montevideo Statement and ICANN’s request for Brazil to host the NETmundial meeting, or will add yet another layer on top of those ongoing efforts. Many of ICANN’s stakeholders are already complaining of being overwhelmed by the effort required to just keep up with events and prepare statements for submission to the Brazil meeting’s organizers by the just-expired March 8th deadline.

Leaders of the Internet technical organizations responsible for coordination of the Internet infrastructure also issued a statement welcoming the U.S. announcement. Yet a review of these organizations makes clear that ICANN is by far the dominant member in terms of staffing and ever-growing financial resources. This raises the possibility that , if these groups are determined to constitute “the global multistakeholder community”  ICANN will essentially be placed in charge of overseeing itself, and that the transition will actually amount to effectively handing the contract over to ICANN. That in turn could erode accountability while making ICANN a more attractive target for future multilateral takeover.

The upcoming ICANN meeting in Singapore was already expected to be dominated by the events initiated in Montevideo last October. This latest announcement will just reinforce that focus, even though ICANN is in the midst of the biggest and perhaps riskiest venture in its history – the ongoing rollout of more than one thousand new gTLDs.

ICA will be present in Singapore and will seek to ensure that, however events unfold, the Internet remains friendly to entrepreneurial business models, including those of domain investors and developers.

 

The press statements referred to in this post are below:

 

 

http://www.ntia.doc.gov/press-release/2014/ntia-announces-intent-transition-key-internet-domain-name-functions

Published on NTIA (http://www.ntia.doc.gov)


NTIA Announces Intent to Transition Key Internet Domain Name Functions

Topics: 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

March 14, 2014

News Media Contact: 

NTIA, Office of Public Affairs, (202) 482-7002, press@ntia.doc.gov[3]

 

WASHINGTON – To support and enhance the multistakeholder model of Internet policymaking and governance, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announces its intent to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community.  As the first step, NTIA is asking the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the current role played by NTIA in the coordination of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS). 

NTIA’s responsibility includes the procedural role of administering changes to the authoritative root zone file – the database containing the lists of names and addresses of all top-level domains – as well as serving as the historic steward of the DNS.  NTIA currently contracts with ICANN to carry out the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions and has a Cooperative Agreement with Verisign under which it performs related root zone management functions.  Transitioning NTIA out of its role marks the final phase of the privatization of the DNS as outlined by the U.S. Government in 1997.

“The timing is right to start the transition process,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Lawrence E. Strickling.  “We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan.”

ICANN is uniquely positioned, as both the current IANA functions contractor and the global coordinator for the DNS, as the appropriate party to convene the multistakeholder process to develop the transition plan.  NTIA has informed ICANN that it expects that in the development of the proposal, ICANN will work collaboratively with the directly affected parties, including the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the Internet Society (ISOC), the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), top level domain name operators, VeriSign, and other interested global stakeholders.

NTIA has communicated to ICANN that the transition proposal must have broad community support and address the following four principles:

  • Support and enhance the multistakeholder model;

  • Maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet DNS;

  • Meet the needs and expectation of the global customers and partners of the IANA services; and,

  • Maintain the openness of the Internet.

    Consistent with the clear policy expressed in bipartisan resolutions of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives (S.Con.Res.50 and H.Con.Res.127), which affirmed the United States support for the multistakeholder model of Internet governance, NTIA will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an inter-governmental organization solution.     

    From the inception of ICANN, the U.S. Government and Internet stakeholders envisioned that the U.S. role in the IANA functions would be temporary.  The Commerce Department’s June 10, 1998 Statement of Policy [4] stated that the U.S. Government “is committed to a transition that will allow the private sector to take leadership for DNS management.”  ICANN as an organization has matured and taken steps in recent years to improve its accountability and transparency and its technical competence.  At the same time, international support continues to grow for the multistakeholder model of Internet governance as evidenced by the continued success of the Internet Governance Forum and the resilient stewardship of the various Internet institutions.

    While stakeholders work through the ICANN-convened process to develop a transition proposal, NTIA’s current role will remain unchanged.  The current IANA functions contract expires September 30, 2015.

    For further information see: IANA Functions and Related Root Zone Management Transition Questions and Answers [5]

    About NTIA

    NTIA is the Executive Branch agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA’s programs and policymaking focus largely on expanding broadband Internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, and ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for continued innovation and economic growth. To find out more about NTIA, visit www.ntia.doc.gov [6].

     

    National Telecommunications and Information Administration
    1401 Constitution Ave., NW Washington, DC 20230

    commerce.gov | Privacy Policy | Web Policies | FOIA | Accessibility | usa.gov


    Source URL: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/press-release/2014/ntia-announces-intent-transition-key-internet-domain-name-functions

    Links:
    [1] http://www.ntia.doc.gov/category/icann
    [2] http://www.ntia.doc.gov/category/domain-name-system
    [3] mailto:press@ntia.doc.gov
    [4] http://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/6_5_98dns.pdf
    [5] http://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/qa_-_iana-for_web_eop.pdf
    [6] http://www.ntia.doc.gov/

    ######################################################################

    News Alert

    http://www.icann.org/en/news/press/releases/release-14mar14-en


    Administrator of Domain Name System Launches Global Multistakeholder Accountability Process

    Press Briefing Scheduled with Board Chair and CEO

    14 March 2014

     

    Los Angeles, California… The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today launched a process to transition the role of the United States Government relating to the Internet’s unique identifiers system.

    ICANN’s announcement comes on the heels of an historic announcement today by the U.S. Government stating that it is ready to transfer its stewardship of the important Internet technical functions to the global Internet community. The U.S. Government’s current responsibilities to be transitioned include the procedural role of administering changes to the Domain Name System’s (DNS) to the authoritative root zone file – the database containing the lists of names and addresses of all top-level domains – as well as serving as the historic steward of the unique identifiers registries for Domain names, IP addresses, and protocol parameters.

    In doing so, the U.S. recognized ICANN’s maturation in becoming an effective multistakeholder organization and requested that ICANN convene the global community to develop the transition process from of the U.S. stewardship to a global community consensus-driven mechanism.

    “We are inviting governments, the private sector, civil society, and other Internet organizations from the whole world to join us in developing this transition process,” said Fadi Chehadé, ICANN’s President and CEO. “All stakeholders deserve a voice in the management and governance of this global resource as equal partners.”

    Independent of the U.S. transition, the roles of the Internet technical organizations, including ICANN’s role as administrator of the Internet’s unique identifier system, remain unchanged. The Internet’s Unique Identifier functions are not apparent to most Internet users, but they play a critical role in maintaining a single, global, unified and interoperable Internet.

    “Even though ICANN will continue to perform these vital technical functions, the U.S. has long envisioned the day when stewardship over them would be transitioned to the global community,” said Dr. Stephen D. Crocker, ICANN’s Board Chair. “In other words, we have all long known the destination. Now it is up to our global stakeholder community to determine the best route to get us there.”

    “The global multistakeholder process is defined by inclusion, and it will take some time to make sure that we obtain all of the necessary inputs,” said Chehadé. “By the time the current contract with the U.S. Government expires in September 2015, we will have a defined and clear process for global multistakeholder stewardship of ICANN’s performance of these technical functions.”

    The first community-wide dialogue about the development of the transitional process will begin March 23-27 during ICANN’s 49th Public Meeting, in Singapore. All global stakeholders are welcome to participate in person or remotely.

    ######################################################################

    http://www.nro.net/news/internet-technical-leaders-welcome-iana-globalization-progress

     

    14 March 2014

    Internet Technical Leaders Welcome IANA Globalization Progress

    The leaders of the Internet technical organizations responsible for coordination of the Internet infrastructure (IETF, IAB, RIRs, ccTLD ROs, ICANN, ISOC, and W3C), welcome the US Government’s announcement of the suggested changes related to the IANA functions contract.

    The roles on policy development processes of the Internet technical organizations and ICANN’s role as administrator of the IANA functions, remain unchanged.

    The transition of the US Government stewardship has been envisaged since the early days of IANA functions contract. This transition is now feasible due to the maturity of the Internet technical organizations involved in performing their respective roles related to the IANA functions, and ICANN will facilitate a global, multi-stakeholder process to plan for the transition.

    The strength and stability of the IANA functions within the above organizations (which make up the Internet technical community) are critical to the operation of the Internet. The processes around the IANA functions have always been carefully specified in the communities that our organizations represent. The IANA functions are faithfully administered by ICANN. We are committed to continuing our proven, community-driven processes as we engage in this transition. Our communities are already considering proposals to progress the transition.

    Our organizations are committed to open and transparent multi-stakeholder processes. We are also committed to further strengthening our processes and agreements related to the IANA functions, and to building on the existing organizations and their roles. The Internet technical community is strong enough to continue its role, while assuming the stewardship function as it transitions from the US Government.

    Participating Leaders

  • Adiel A. Akplogan, CEO African Network Information Center (AFRINIC)
  • Barrack Otieno, Manager, The African Top Level Domains Organization (AFTLD)
  • Paul Wilson, Director General Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC)
  • Don Hollander, General Manager Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Association (APTLD)
  • John Curran, CEO American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN)
  • Peter Van Roste, General Manager, Council for European National Top Level Domain Registries (CENTR)
  • Russ Housley, Chair Internet Architecture Board (IAB)
  • Fadi Chehadé, President and CEO Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
  • Jari Arkko, Chair Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
  • Kathy Brown, President and CEO Internet Society (ISOC)
  • Raúl Echeberría, CEO Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC)
  • Carolina Aguerre, General Manager, Latin American and Caribbean TLD Association (LACTLD)
  • Axel Pawlik, Managing Director Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC)
  • Jeff Jaffe, CEO World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

 

Comments are closed.