Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 27, 2014

Internet Domain Name System: An Update on NTIA, ICANN Plan

Back in March, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced that it would ask the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to get stakeholders together to come up with a plan for the federal agency to step back from its role in certain functions of the Internet domain name system.

In case you haven’t been watching ICANN’s every movement since then, here’s an update via NTIA’s Lawrence E. Strickling, from his remarks at an American Enterprise Institute Internet governance event on Tuesday.

Strickling, assistant secretary of Commerce for communications and information, laid out two processes that ICANN has deployed: one having to do with drafting the NTIA transition plan specifically and another that is a separate review of ICANN’s own accountability process, taking into account that the NTIA contract will no longer be in place.

Strickling said the latter process will review how the nonprofit can strengthen its accountability mechanisms to “address the absence of its historical contractual relationship with NTIA,” and that this issue would be addressed before a transition actually occurs.

As far as the NTIA transition plan goes, Strickling said ICANN worked with other Internet groups to lay out a  process for developing the plan and that earlier this month, ICANN announced the formation of a coordinating group to help develop the transition plan. That group is made up of roughly 30 people representing 13 Internet communities and first met in London last week, he said.

“It has developed a proposed charter for comment that affirms that it will conduct itself transparently, consult with a broad range of stakeholders and ensure that its proposal support the security and stability of the IANA functions,” he said.

“We will monitor progress of both of these work efforts closely and carefully,” he said.

The current contract with ICANN ends in September 2015, but there’s the option of a four-year extension.

ICANN’s proposal back in March has drawn scrutiny from Republicans on the Hill and has drawn resulting legislative fire.

On Tuesday, Strickling said congressional efforts to delay a transition would send the “wrong message”:

Now I understand some that lawmakers have concerns about the IANA transition and its potential impact on Internet freedom and openness. I respect those opinions but strongly believe congressional  efforts aimed at delaying this transition would send the wrong message to the rest of the world about our commitment to the multistakeholder approach to governance.

Unified support for that multistakeholder approach has served as a “bulwark regulatory efforts by foreign, authoritarian regime,” he said.

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