Comments of the Internet Governance Project on the NTIA's “Request for Comments on the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) Functions” (Docket # 110207099-1099-01)
For better or worse, the IANA contract is perceived as one of the linchpins of global internet governance. For that reason, our comments begin by assessing the role of the IANA contract in the overall Internet governance regime. Currently, ICANN performs both operational and policy making functions (e.g., running the L root), and the IANA contract unnecessarily concentrates multiple functions in the hands of a single entity. We believe therefore that NTIA should use the next cycle of the IANA contract to prepare the way for unbundling the protocol parameters, IP address resources and DNS root zone coordination functions, aiming for the eventual delegation of those separated functions to appropriately accountable non-state actors, such as the IETF for protocol parameters.
While last week's IG news was dominated by the ICANN meeting in San Francisco, including the Board's watershed moment approving .xxx, other important IG decisions were occurring elsewhere. In accordance with the ARIN Policy Development Process (PDP), the ARIN Advisory Council (AC) held a meeting on 17 March 2011, deciding on some important policy debates we've recently covered. All of the proposals focus on the relationship between legacy space holders and ARIN. While abandoning the proposals short circuits any attempt to arrive at mutually agreed upon policy, the AC's actions certainly clarifies the position of ARIN.
Wake up call for our friends in the Regional Internet Registries. Nortel, the Canadian telecommunications equipment manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, has succeeded in making its legacy IPv4 address block an asset that can be sold to generate money for its creditors. The March 23 edition of...
The 7 year old saga of the XXX top level domain ended, more or less, on Friday March 18. And as luck would have it, the story turned out to have a happy ending. If you read the ICANN Board's rationale for its decision, and can make sense of the legal and process details, there is an abundance of good precedents and good news. The only blemish is that only 9 Board members voted the right way: 3 voted no and 4 ducked under the table and pretended they weren't there (i.e., they abstained). The decision is important because of what it means for process and institution-building in Internet governance.
The San Francisco ICANN meeting has been completely dominated by GAC-Board negotiations over the new top level domain program. The underlying theme of those negotiations is the role of nation-states in the governance of Internet names and addresses. In the past few days I’ve learned a lot about the perspectives of various parties on this standoff, including people in civil society, the At Large Advisory Committee and the Noncommercial Users Constituency, business people, trademark lawyers, and government officials.
I come away more convinced than ever that we are not getting it right, this relationship between traditional nation-states and ICANN. At the same time, I see that most people involved, especially governments, fail to grasp that. The answer is not, as everyone seems to assume, more discussions and negotiations. The collisions that took place in Brussels last month will be replayed endlessly unless we diagnose the problem better.
The slowly dawning knowledge that the US Commerce Department has been pushing to give national governments more power over ICANN has generated cognitive dissonance in this country. Isn't this supposed to be the land of Internet freedom, not the land of intergovernmental control? Wasn’t it the Commerce Department who created a private sector governance agency in the first place? The NTIA is now compounding the confusion by claiming that its newly aggressive stance toward ICANN is an attempt to stave off a takeover by the UN or some other intergovernmental conspiracy. We are told that there are “increasing pressures on ICANN” from foreign powers, and that a strengthened GAC is the only way to appease them. This meme was planted in the mind of a Washington Post reporter, new to the ICANN beat, and has spread from there to a columnist for Time Magazine. But the NTIA's argument is completely bogus. There are no “increasing pressures” on ICANN from other countries. The pressures have, in fact, dramatically subsided in the past five years. All the pressure is coming from the U.S. itself. So what gives? Read on.
After 13 years of ICANN and the putative “privatization” of DNS governance, we are still having fundamental debates about the role of territorial governments in ICANN. The significance of this debate goes well beyond the governance of domain names, and implicates governments’ role in Internet governance more generally. The February 28-March 2 showdown between the ICANN Board and its not-so-advisory Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) in Brussels resolved very little, except to demonstrate that conflict over this issue is hardwired into the structure of ICANN. It is a big problem and it is going to continue. This article provides our take on what happened.
[Abstract] Suggested citation: Comments of the Internet Governance Project on the NTIA's "Request for Comments on the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) Functions" (Docket # 110207099-1099-01) (March 31, 2011). Internet Governance Project. Paper IGP11-001. Available at https://www.internetgovernance.org/2011/03/31/igp-comments-to-ntia-on-the-iana-functions/