On February 25 the Senate Commerce committee will be holding hearings related to ICANN. For Congress, the hearings will be a progress report on the IANA transition and the ICANN accountability process. Testimony will come from the Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickling, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade, and business lobbyist and former State Department ambassador David Gross.
The Internet Governance project reports that the House of Representatives passed a consolidated appropriations bill to fund the majority of government through fiscal year 2015. Contradicting their ‘Internet freedom’ rhetoric, Republicans attached a rider to the gigantic ($1.014 trillion) federal funding bill that defunded any attempt by the NTIA to set the domain name system free of government control until October 2015. The action does not stop ongoing community efforts to develop a plan for the IANA transition. But it does prevent the NTIA from spending any time on completing the process. Paul Rosenzweig wrote on the Lawfare blog that this does not totally prevent the transition from happening, because “the act of not signing a contract (which is what NTIA proposes to do) costs nothing.
But this relatively optimistic view overlooks the fact that completing the transition requires a bit more than just not renewing ICANN’s contract. It also requires NTIA to amend its Cooperative Agreement with Verisign. It requires an orderly transition of authority over the DNS root to whatever new institution the proposal developers come up with. And, if NTIA is to ensure that the transition meets its own criteria – such as not allowing intergovernmental control, having widespread support, upholding the ‘multistakeholder model’ and maintaining the openness, stability and security of the Internet, NTIA needs to review and approve the plan submitted to it by the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group.
On Friday and Saturday, the IANA Stewardship Coordination Group (ICG) met and succeeded in assessing proposals submitted by the IETF for protocol parameters and the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) for numbers.
For the time being, both the IETF/protocol parameter proposal and the RIRs’ proposal for numbers would retain ICANN as the IANA functions provider. But both proposals established (or, in the case of IETF, retained) a severable contractual relationship with ICANN.
The U.S. Congress is now circling about the process intently, declaring this week “Internet Governance awareness week” to encourage public awareness of the transition and education about the importance of it.
The year 2014 was a historic year in internet governance: From the announcement of the IANA transition process to the NetMundial meeting and the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, the procedures and policies regarding the coordination of the internet seem to be more than ever a central topic of global governance. But just before the end of the year, yet another process in internet governance added a bitter aftertaste to this development: the NetMundial Initiative (NMI). Perceived by some as an attempt to create a “Security Council of the Internet”, this new initiative has stirred an intense debate among civil society groups about the limits of multistakeholder governance – a debate which could actually help to overcome the gridlocked controversy between multistakeholder and intergovernmental governance models for the internet.
CSO reports that an ICANN spokesman dismissed accusations that the recent growth in the number of generic top-level domains has caused data breaches. There are now more than 700 top-level domains such as .meme, .guru and .blog. The number of TLDs has exploded only recently -- between 1985 and 2012, the number of TLDs grew slowly, from five to 22. According to critics, the recent growth has been a windfall for cyber criminals.
NETMundial has established a solid foundation and we now need to follow through in putting the multistakeholder model on much sounder footing. We need to invest and build a governance structure for the Internet that people can trust! Trust, trust, trust is the key.