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NTIA Wants Participation In IANA Transition to Multistakeholder Model

IANA logoA proposal has been released that will see the transition of the US government’s stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority’s (IANA) through ICANN to a multistakeholder model and the US government is encouraging comments and feedback.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration‘s Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling has asked those interested to give their feedback in a blog posting on the NTIA’s website.

The move is not without controversy with many US Republicans spreading fear of doomsday scenarios whereby countries such as China and Russia would be allowed to take control of the internet.

The proposal also has critics not spreading the doomsday scenarios but taking a more constructive approach such as former staffer and journalist Kieren McCarthy who writes a lengthy article in The Register, and is essential reading for those interested in the transition, that says in part:

“the near-final version is a hodgepodge of ideas and compromises that fails to address a key aspect of Uncle Sam’s role.

“In addition, the plan substitutes a complex set of unworkable process steps in place of the US Department of Commerce’s simple oversight of the internet. And it is reliant on a separate, unfinished process for improving accountability at the organization that will assume de facto control, ICANN.

“Most of the problems in the plan stem from political rather than technical issues, which means its main aspects are likely to remain even after a public comment period.

“In particular, the decision to award ICANN control of the IANA contract through a wholly controlled affiliate remains controversial, and there is some reason to believe that the process was distorted in order to arrive at a pre-decided outcome.”

Currently the role of the IANA is managed by ICANN through a contract with the US government. Discussions have been underway for over a year within the ICANN community and with other interested parties as to how best complete this transition.

According to Reuters, “the transition proposal recommends creating a separate subsidiary, with its own performance evaluation process, to actually operate the technical functions of managing the Internet’s name and address system under a contract with ICANN.”

“Similar to ICANN’s current process, a community could raise the alarm if IANA functions are not performed appropriately, according to Alissa Cooper, a U.S.-based network engineer who chairs the group coordinating the IANA transition.

“Because the proposal roots the accountability responsibility in the various stakeholder communities, that is one of the defences against capture by any single constituency,” Cooper told Reuters. “The proposal does a good job of maintaining the aspects of the current system that have been working well and carrying them forward to the future.”

“Under the proposal, ICANN would remain headquartered in California.

“The proposal suggests that the role played by the U.S. government be replaced by ICANN itself, an oversight committee and a review process involving many interested parties, none of which are governments or inter-governmental organisations.”

 

The transition is expected to be completed in mid-2016 after current CEO and President Fadi Chehadé, who has been driving the change following the US government announcement that it would happen, steps down.

The post by Strickling is as follows:

Nearly 17 months ago, NTIA kicked off activities to complete the privatization of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) as promised in 1998 by transitioning our stewardship role over  certain technical functions related to the DNS.

 

We have reached an important milestone in that process as the two working groups tasked with developing proposals related to the transition have released them for final comment.

These technical functions, known as the IANA functions, play an important but limited role in how the DNS and Internet operate. The DNS allows users to identify websites, mail servers, and other Internet destinations using easy-to-understand names (e.g., www.ntia.doc.gov) rather than the numeric network addresses (e.g., 170.110.225.163) necessary to retrieve information on the Internet.

The IANA transition will advance our commitment to ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for global economic growth, innovation and free speech.

Since March 2014, the Internet community – made up of technical experts, businesses and civil society – has spent hundreds of hours devising a transition proposal that aims to meet the principles we outlined, including preserving the openness, security and resiliency of the Internet.

The global Internet community also developed a proposal to enhance the accountability of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which currently performs the IANA functions under a contract with NTIA, in advance of NTIA transitioning its stewardship role.

In recent days both the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) and the Cross Community Working Group (CCWG) on Enhancing ICANN Accountability have posted their proposals for review and final public comment.  Comments are due September 8, 2015, for the ICG’s proposal and September 12, 2015, for the CCWG’s proposal.

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.

I greatly appreciate the time and effort the community has put into developing these proposals. With the participation of as many stakeholders as possible, I am confident that this transition will result in a stronger ICANN and an Internet that will continue to grow and thrive throughout the world.