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Wednesday, 13th May 2015

The Future of Internet Governance: Should the U.S. Relinquish Its Authority Over ICANN?

Source: Congressional Research Service via Federation of American Scientists

From Summary:

Currently, the U.S. government retains limited authority over the Internet’s domain name system, primarily through the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions contract between the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). By virtue of the IANA functions contract, the NTIA exerts a legacy authority and stewardship over ICANN, and arguably has more influence over ICANN and the domain name system (DNS) than other national governments.

On March 14, 2014, NTIA announced the intention to transition its stewardship role and procedural authority over key Internet domain name functions to the global Internet multistakeholder community. To accomplish this transition, NTIA has asked ICANN to convene interested global Internet stakeholders to develop a transition proposal. NTIA has stated that it will not accept any transition proposal that would replace the NTIA role with a government-led or an intergovernmental organization solution.

Currently, Internet stakeholders are engaged in a series of working groups to develop a transition proposal. Their goal is to submit a final proposal to NTIA by summer 2015. NTIA must approve the proposal in order for it to relinquish its authority over the IANA functions contract. While the IANA functions contract expires on September 30, 2015, NTIA has the flexibility to extend the contract for any period through September 2019.

Concerns have risen in Congress over the proposed transition. Critics worry that relinquishing U.S. authority over Internet domain names may offer opportunities for either hostile foreign governments or intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations, to gain undue influence over the Internet. On the other hand, supporters argue that this transition completes the necessary evolution of Internet domain name governance towards the private sector, and will ultimately support and strengthen the multistakeholder model of Internet governance.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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