NTIA Raises Possibility of Big Changes in IANA function

The U.S. Commerce Department has issued a Request for Comments (RFC) on the renewal of the IANA contract. As the notice itself says, this is “the first time NTIA has undertaken a comprehensive review of the IANA functions contract since the award of the first contract in 2000.” Whosoever controls IANA, controls the root of the domain name system and the address allocation hierarchy. The current IANA functions contract, which is held by ICANN, will expire on September 30, 2011. The RFC throws some interesting new questions into the Internet governance discussion. It asks a question that IGP asked at the Vilnius Internet Governance Forum in 2010, namely whether various parts of the IANA function could be unbundled and given to different agencies? More interestingly still, it notes that the IANA contract's performance often relies upon the policies and procedures developed by a organizations such as the IETF, the RIRs and ccTLD operators. The RFC asks, “should the IANA functions contract include references to these entities, the policies they develop and instructions that the contractor follow the policies?” If this happens it could act as an important accountability constraint on ICANN, but could also tighten and extend U.S. control over the regime by making these other agencies implicated in a U.S. contract – which they are not at present. Anyway, it appears from this document as if the IETF's efforts to insert itself into the IANA contracting process has been successful.

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