Can we trust ICANN to conduct itself in a predictable, open, transparent, and accountable manner if it takes over governance of the Internet's domain name system from the U.S. government?
That was the main question up for discussion Wednesday in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, as lawmakers heard feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders about the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) plan to relinquish its historical oversight of key technical Internet functions. Overwhelmingly the group called for caution and deliberation, proclaiming the importance of U.S. government oversight of this transition to ensure that the end result allows the global Internet community to hold ICANN accountable.
One of the most striking aspects of the hearing was the list of grievances stakeholders have with ICANN for its history of poorly enforcing its policies and its pattern of putting its own interests ahead of those of the global Internet community. Here is a sample of the issues raised by the witnesses' testimony:
For more than a decade, the U.S. government has served as a referee in the geopolitical game that constitutes global Internet governance, not to give an advantage to any particular stakeholders, but to make sure that there was a level playing field for all. If these types of problems can occur even while ICANN was under the limited supervision of the U.S. government, how far might ICANN go if left to its own devices?
This hearing was a reminder that the U.S. government cannot afford to take a hands-off approach to ICANN's transition plan, but should use its existing oversight authority to demand that the ICANN board adopt the global Internet community's proposed accountability reforms before any transition occurs. By demanding ICANN adopt the community's recommendations for strong mechanisms in place to ensure accountability, transparency, and trust for all, the U.S. government can help set ICANN on a positive trajectory that will allow it to maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet while allowing participation from a global set of stakeholders.
Alan McQuinn, a research Assistant at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, contributed to this piece.
By Daniel Castro, VP at Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
|Data Center||Policy & Regulation|
|DNS Security||Regional Registries|
|Domain Names||Registry Services|
|Intellectual Property||Top-Level Domains|
|Internet of Things||Web|
|Internet Protocol||White Space|
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