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ICANN Opens “IANA Stewardship and Accountability Public Comment Periods” by Philip Corwin, Internet Commerce Association

Internet Commerce Association logoOver the past week ICANN has opened dual comment periods on the interrelated proposals for transitioning oversight of the IANA root zone functions form the U.S. government to the multistakeholder ICANN community, and for significantly enhancing that community’s ability to hold ICANN’s Board and staff accountable. When the final proposals are implemented they will mark the biggest changes in ICANN’s oversight and operations since its start seventeen years ago.

The comment period on the fully integrated (names, numbers and protocols) proposal from the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) closes on September 8th, while the one on the second draft CCWG proposal on Enhancing ICANN Accountability closes on September 12. Once the public comments are taken into account a final proposal on the transition and accountability will likely be presented to the ICANN Board at the October meeting in Dublin, Ireland, or soon thereafter.

As of now the projected date on which the NTIA would be informed that the plan, including all Work Stream One pre-transition accountability measures and Bylaws amendments, has been implemented would be July 2016. That would kick off a period in which NTIA, and likely Congress, would carefully review and consider whether the final plan met all necessary requirements. If it passes that hurdle the transition could be completed around September 2016.

As explained by the ICG:

In parallel with the process [for development of the transition proposal]…, the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG) has developed a proposal to ensure ICANN’s continued accountability in the absence of contractual oversight by the U.S. government. This accountability proposal does not deal directly with the governance of the IANA functions, but nevertheless must have broad public support in order for the IANA transition to proceed. The domain names component of the transition proposal, about which the ICG is seeking comment here, is significantly dependent and expressly conditioned on the implementation of specific ICANN-level accountability mechanisms by the CCWG.

According to the CCWG:

The CCWG-Accountability requests community feedback on its 2nd Draft Proposal of proposed enhancements to ICANN’s accountability framework it has identified as essential to happen or be committed to before the IANA Stewardship Transition takes place (Work Stream 1). Community input will help the CCWG-Accountability improve its proposal and carry on with next steps, including Chartering Organizations’ endorsement of the CCWG-Accountability output before it is submitted to the ICANN Board of Directors during or after ICANN54…This 40-day comment period is an opportunity for the community to make its voice heard and to shape the outcome of the CCWG-Accountability work.

In an August 4th blog titled “Let Your Voice be Heard on IANA Transition”, NTIA head Larry Strickling wrote:

The IANA transition will advance our commitment to ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for global economic growth, innovation and free speech… I urge all parties with an interest in the IANA transition to review these proposals and provide feedback to the working groups. This is the best way to make your voice heard and make a difference. It is particularly important that stakeholders everywhere evaluate whether these plans meet the criteria that we have said must be part of the transition.

We echo Secretary Stickling’s sentiments. If you are involved in the domain name sector – or even if you just utilize the Internet and want to assure its continued reliability as a platform for free expression and innovation – it’s worth taking the time to review the plans and submitting a comment. Besides, this chance won’t come again.

This article by Philip Corwin from the Internet Commerce Association was sourced with permission from: