The National Telecommunications & Information Administraton (NTIA) announced Thursday that it has accepted a proposal for transitioning the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to the private sector. The proposal meets the conditions set out in 2014 by the NTIA for the replacement of itself as overseer of ICANN with a number of accountability and transparency mechanisms and bylaws to balance the powers of multiple stakeholders and the ICANN board.
“Today’s announcement marks an important milestone in the U.S. government’s 18-year effort to privatize the Internet’s domain name system,” said US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “This transition ensures that the Internet continues to flourish as a platform for innovation, economic growth and free expression. I want to thank the Internet’s diverse multistakeholder community, which includes businesses, technical experts, and civil society groups, for their dedication and hard work.”
The criteria set out by the NTIA for the IANA transition were to support and enhance the multistakeholder model, maintain the security and stability of the DNS, meet the needs of IANA service partners and customers, and maintain the openness of the internet, without recourse to a government-led organization. ICANN set out the proposal in March, which includes measures for “the community” to potentially block ICANN budgets, bylaw changes, and even board members, as a safeguard against takeover.
Oversight of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) will be transitioned from the NTIA to “direct customer stewardship via contracts, service-level expectations, community-led reviews, and increased transparency.”
The proposal was weighed against recommendation from the Government Accountability Office and reviewed by a panel of corporate governance experts, NTIA said.
“The internet’s multistakeholder community has risen to the challenge we gave them to develop a transition proposal that would ensure the internet’s domain name system will continue to operate as seamlessly as it currently does,” said Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. “The plan developed by the community will strengthen the multistakeholder approach that has helped the Internet to grow and thrive, while maintaining the stability, security, and openness that users across the globe depend on today.”
“The internet economy applauds NTIA for its deliberative and thorough work reviewing the ICANN transition proposals to ensure its principles for a successful transition are met. Our organizations agree that the proposals to transition ICANN from U.S. government stewardship to a bottom-up, multistakeholder model satisfy NTIA principles and provide the internet with the best path forward for self governance. It is important that Congress not artificially slow down the transition beyond theSeptember 30 expiration of the current IANA contract. We will remain engaged and vigilant as the transition proceeds to ensure the continued success of the multistakeholder model.”
Ecommerce lobby group NetChoice also expressed support for the decision.
US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) introduced legislation on Wednesday, the Washington Post reports, to require the Commerce Department to keep ICANN under the NTIA unless even more legislation is passed, ordering it to carry on.
Recently departed ICANN head Fadi Chehadé said a year ago that the government would approve a transfer plan before the fall Presidential election, despite the renewal of the existing contract just last August.