The ICANN54 meeting in Dublin mid-October represented a key moment in the development of a proposal for the IANA stewardship transition. We are now entering a crucial time where all the pieces must come together in harmony, in order to cross the finish line.
Earlier this year, I wrote that 2015 would be a busy year for the Internet, and it most certainly has been just that.
For the past 19 months, the ICANN / Internet community, led by the hundreds of participants in the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) and the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) in particular, has spent a significant amount of time developing possible mechanisms to replace the US Government’s role, and ensuring that ICANN has the right accountability and governance systems in place to allow the international multistakeholder community to effectively exercise its supervisory role in future.
This historic journey started last year, in March 2014, when the United States government announced its intention to transition its historical supervision of the IANA functions to the global multistakeholder community.
These functions, administered by ICANN under contract with the US Government’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), deal with the global coordination and maintenance of the Internet’s unique identifiers, such as domain names and IP addresses.
How did we get to where we are now? The latest proposals included setting up IANA as a legal entity and affiliate of ICANN, which would be subject to reviews by new dedicated operational committees, based on enhanced performance reporting.
A system of escalation would ensure that the IANA functions are performed properly and that any emerging problems would be dealt with swiftly.
These new mechanisms would come with enhanced community powers, notably in relation to the ICANN Board and appeals processes.
Once precise proposals emerged, opinions started to polarize on possible alternatives, which is fairly common at this stage of discussions when dealing with such evolutionary organizational changes on an international level. Those of us ensconced in Brussels-level negotiations are familiar with these kinds of interactions.
The ICANN54 meeting in Dublin mid-October represented a key moment in the development of a proposal for the transition.
Dublin seems to have provided the right level of positivity; the right setting for the community to work through a number of important questions and move toward a revised set of proposals, particularly as regards accountability and governance issues.
After weeks of intense discussions, we witnessed another success story for the multistakeholder model. Stakeholders from across the spectrum of interests – business, civil society and government representatives – focused on finding a path forward that everyone could agree upon.
The IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) finalized its work at the end of ICANN54 in Dublin, and is currently discussing potential implementation-related work.
As for the CCWG-Accountability, current plans include:
* As of the 15th November, a 36-page formal update on progress has just now been released. We highly encourage you to review this document here. The full Third Draft Proposal on will be shared with the public on 30 November 2015, with a 21-day public comment period that will begin then end on 21 December 2015. This will be announced on ICANN.org then, so please keep an eye out for it and get involved
* Pending no major changes or concerns raised during the public comment period, the group aims to submit a proposal to the ICANN Board by mid-January 2016. It would then be sent to the U.S. Government for review, and implementation would then likely begin later in the year.
This is where we stand as of today; a crucial time where all the pieces must come together in harmony, in order to cross the finish line.
With all stakeholders getting involved and providing input, we look forward to seeing the community produce a consensus-led proposal in the time frame outlined.
photo credit: Alpha du centaure
Stefano Trumpy, the former delegate for Italy in the Governmental Advisory Committee of ICANN, explains why the transition process of IANA functions has been delayed and what to expect in the following months.
The Digital Post: The US government has announced that it will renew the IANA contract for one year, pushing back the IANA transition deadline date to 1 October 2016. What was your first impression?
Stefano Trumpy: I have been the Governmental Advisory Committee Representative for Italy from 1999 through 2014 and now I am operating in EURALO.
ICANN creation has been a follow on of the white book signed in 1988 by Clinton-Gore asking for internationalizing the management of DNS and for an increased offer of generic Top Level Domain Names.
ICANN started it’s operations in 1999 with a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Department of Commerce – NTIA conceived to last two years; actually the MoU was renewed every two years until 2009 when the MoU has been substituted by the Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) with NTIA signed in September 2009.
The AoC didn’t stop the continuation of the IANA zero dollars contract between ICANN and NTIA. The 2014 announcement revealed the final intention of US government to cease the oversight of the DNS management.
To be noted that setting up ICANN as an experimental multistakeholder initiative to internationalize the DNS management was conceived during a democratic US presidency; the evolution of the US government direct monitoring of ICANN towards the AoC agreement happened in 2009 under another democratic Presidency as well as the NTIA announcement of 2014.
If we look at the IANA project to be discontinued in 2016, US will be in front of next elections campaign to renew the US Presidency.
It is evident that among the republicans there are some perplexities about the interruption of an activity that could be considered as an important asset for US industry.
Up to now there are no signals in the auditions in the senate that the republicans want to suspend the IANA transition but they have started to put conditions that could render the transition more problematic.
The Digital Post: What are the main reasons behind this delay within the IANA transition?
Stefano Trumpy: The main reasons are connected to the hard work made by the multistakeholder groups involved in preparing the final proposal for the transition to be submitted to the NTIA – DoC a few months in advance of the next deadline of the IANA project.
An enormous amount of work has been engaged in order to meet requirements stated in the announcement of NTIA of March 14 2014 in order to meet the deadline of contract foreseen for end of September 2015.
The groups involved in preparing the transition project are:
– IGC (IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group) that is operating independently from ICANN;
– CCWG (Cross Community working group on enhancing ICANN Accountability) that is operating inside ICANN structure
– CWG (IANA Stewardship transition proposal on Naming Related functions) that is operating inside ICANN structure.
An estimated amount of working hours dedicated up to now by the mentioned working groups to prepare the material for the IANA transition is in the order of fourty thousand; the agreements of involved constituencies in some of the hypothesis left open for final approval need some more work but the major part of the work is already done.
The Digital Post: Considering that once the community proposal is finalized, it will then take a few months for the US Gov., i.e. for NTIA, to evaluate and adopt it, not to speak about the implementation process, don’t you fear that the delay could well be more than 1 year?
Stefano Trumpy: NTIA – DOC needs some time to evaluate the IANA transition proposal as regards the respect of the conditions imposed in March 14th 2014 summarized in the following:
a) Assure DNS management more secure and accountable
b) No further governments direct involvement in DNS management and IANA function in particular.
Therefore the proposal should be delivered possibly not later than in early spring 2016. In my opinion, having followed remotely the auditions in the US Senate on the IANA transition, it could happen that the proposal approval will take more than 4 or 5 months; In a recent statement, NTIA Administrator Larry Strikling said the US contract with ICANN could be further extended up to a limit of three years.
The Digital Post: Some observers warn that if the US abandons its oversight of core internet functions this may open the door to a more inter-governmental approach with countries like China and Russia seeking to have a disproportionate influence in the operation of the Internet that would have otherwise been kept at bay by US government watchdogs. What is your opinion?
Stefano Trumpy: NTIA – DoC has been very clear on the aspect of governmental involvement in DNS management and IANA service in particular; then it is clear that if for example China and or Russia will try to have voice in the management of IANA, the IANA transition proposal will be rejected by the US.
Another personal consideration is that, after a successful IANA transition, nothing will change that could ease disproportionate influence in the operation of the Internet by other countries.
If, in the end the transition will not take place, my guess is that the international debate referring to the privileged role of US in directing IANA service, will go ahead in the post WSIS + 10 years with an enormous amount of energies spent to diplomatically oblige US to abandon it’s supervisory role on Internet’s addressing system.
Therefore, I really hope that the condition will be met to present a satisfactory IANA transition project by March or April next year to NTIA. What means satisfactory?
I recommend the IGC that, when there are different options to assure the continuation of the present role of NTIA, please chose the simpler solution that guarantee a smooth continuation of the service and do not disturb the operational role of ICANN.
Stefano Trumpy: Born in 1945. Engineering degree. Director of the CNUCE Research Institute of the National Reseacrh Council from ‘83 through ‘96. Pioneer of the introduction of the Internet in Italy. Administrator of the ccTLD ".it" since its inception in 1987, until 1999. Delegate for Italy in the Governmental Advisory Committee of ICANN (1999-2014). He brought the CNUCE Institute among the founders of the Internet Society (ISOC) in 1992 and he is the Chair of the Italian Chapter of the Internet society. He is a member of the promoting committee of IGF Italy. He participated, since the beginning, in the Internet Governance Forums promoted by the United Nations.
photo credit: 1-defending-icann
The transition process has provided a unique opportunity for the global community to gather with a shared purpose, to achieve the common vision of evolving the core Internet functions efficiently.
It’s over a year since work started for several multistakeholder groups on the transition of the US Government stewardship over the IANA functions.
One of the four key conditions set by the US Government was that the transition proposal should ‘Support and enhance the multistakeholder model’.
If the transition process itself is anything to go by, this condition will easily be met. In fact, this process has been a remarkable embodiment of the model, and is helping to make it stronger. The transition has provided a unique opportunity for the global community to gather with a shared purpose, to achieve the common vision of evolving the core Internet functions efficiently.
Bringing in these different views, perspectives and personalities together could have been a major challenge. Instead, the remarkable progress achieved so far, shows that this challenge has turned into a hugely positive exercise. The different stakeholder groups and different regions of the world, have come together as a team to produce high quality, highly researched work. The mix of lawyers, economists, engineers, civil society and user voices or academic experts in governance has ensured much-needed, robust exchanges and solidly developed material. The sensible and well thought-out proposals that have emerged are a testament to that impressive, pioneering collaboration.
And if several extra weeks have been taken here and there to ensure that the proposals would be as robust and consensual as possible, it has been a quick process by any standard: it would be hard to find an example in history of such a global exercise and major, critical evolution happening in such a short space of time, and with such quality and cohesiveness.
From a European perspective we can be proud, too: European stakeholders have been very active in the transition discussions, with in particular several positions of co-chairs of working groups held by Europeans. Several of these co-chairs joined us at a recent event on Internet Governance held by the European Internet Forum (EIF) in Brussels, where during his keynote intervention Fadi Chehade underscored how our region’s participation, with its vast experience in building collaborative institutions, has brought strong input into both the structural aspects of the transition, and the accountability and governance work.
The Multistakeholder model comes out of this process not just as the proven way of coordinating the management of critical Internet resources, but more importantly, it is reinforced as a crucial method for handling the complex, transnational endeavours of our global age.
Our community should be proud to have pioneered and evolved this system which drives successful global cooperation – a worthy direction for the future.
Originally posted on: ICANN blog
photo credit: Eric Fischer
This could be a critical year for the governance of the Internet. A plan for transferring the US stewardship of the IANA functions to the global community is expected to come to life by next September. Post-WCIT tensions over the role of countries in managing the web may come to a showdown at the WSIS+10 high-level conference to be held next December in New York.
And while the UN General Assembly is likely to extend the mandate of the IGF, an essential platform for policy dialogue, many other Internet Governance issues such as privacy, cybersecurity and net neutrality will be debated more than ever in countless international venues. If it wants to carry some weight with the Internet “big game”, Europe cannot afford to play with 28 different national teams. It should speak with one voice out of a clear and bold vision.
Unfortunately, there are few signs that this will occur. In the past years Member states have relegated the issue of Internet Governance to a bunch of working documents and non-binding declarations. They haven’t gone beyond agreeing on a set of vague principles and have widely disregarded the European Commission’s pleas for more common action.
Such disengagement conceals the will to keep a free hand on the issue, highlighting different national stances. For instance, France and Germany are seemingly inclined to favour a more intergovernamental approach in the future governance of the Internet, whereas other EU countries are far more cautious fearing this could give more (legal) legitimacy to non liberal states’ attempts at censuring the web.
Nonetheless, a reasonable compromise would not be that difficult. Last year, the European Commission presented an ambitious political document on Internet Governance that could serve as a basis for further negotiations. Likewise, the European Parliament outlined his position in a number of non-binding resolutions.
Europe has still a great chance to be a protagonist of the current transition if it is willing to set aside ineffective national interests and develop a long-term and common strategy. But it should hurry.
2015 is going to be a busy year for the Internet – and not just in Brussels with the recent arrival of an ambitious new team of Commissioners but globally – with the evolution of Internet governance and the IANA functions Stewardship Transition.
It will be 10 years since the conclusion of the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), a 4 year long process held in two phases which produced a number of declarations and engagements, and created the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as well as the endorsement that governance of the Internet should be ‘multi-stakeholder’.
Initially the WSIS was to focus – rightly, many would say – on ‘bridging the digital divide’. But the more political discussions usual for a UN setting soon focused on the topic of Internet Governance: who rules the Internet? How can it be controlled?
And there was no clear conclusion on that.
[Tweet “This is because in fact, no one does control the Internet.”]
The running of the core functions behind the Internet is coordinated – a better word than ‘governed’ – by a distributed collaborative of processes, mechanisms, and organisations, each distinct and interdependent on one another.
The global and cross-border nature of the Internet challenges the concept of governance by only governments or groups of government. Partly, this is why these various governance processes have evolved organically to be both global and ‘multi-stakeholder’ in nature, resulting in a pioneering democratic effort to tackle these challenges in a novel approach. Many, and we at ICANN, consider the multistakeholder model to be the most effective, open and transparent structure.
So why is 2015 going to be busy?
Well a lot happened this year, paving the way for the unfolding of processes in 2015. The inevitable shift from dialogue to action. The Net Mundial conference of Sao Paulo in April 2014 in particular, came out of the realisation of the need to move to a next level in Internet Governance.
It gathered all stakeholders to draft and adopt through ‘rough consensus’ a series of important principles, starting with the respect of human rights and privacy online, and a roadmap for further improvements and evolutions of the system, including for the Internet Governance Forum, as well as a whole gamut of other aspects.
ICANN itself is in the middle of major evolution, with its globalization efforts, the transition of the IANA functions, together with a review on how to further enhance ICANN Accountability & Governance.
ICANN has gone into a major programme of globalisation over the last two years in particular, with the opening of two operational hubs in Istanbul and Singapore, so that we are able to serve the global Internet community at anytime, anywhere. Already about a third of ICANN’s staff is based internationally, and this is growing.
Likewise, we have embarked on a major effort of engagement of stakeholders around the world, to build capacity and encourage more participation from people from all over the world in ICANN.
We want to ensure that our community is representative of the global nature of the Internet; that is true for our staff, our stakeholders, our Board.
Then there is the topic, which has grabbed the headlines around the world this year: the intention to transition the US Government’s historic role of oversight of the core IANA functions, which ICANN administers, to ‘the global multi-stakeholder community’ by the end of September 2015.
At the end of the process, all those concerned with the Internet, from the technical community and governments to civil society, will have the equal responsibility for overseeing these key functions.
What the U.S. is actually doing is preparing to transition its stewardship of a narrow set of technical functions performed by ICANN within the Internet’s infrastructure to … you, as part of the global multistakeholder community.
The IANA functions include the allocation and maintenance of the unique codes and numbering systems of the Internet (such as Internet Protocol addresses).
The U.S. announcement in March 2014 set into motion two open, public processes. One is for the global Internet community to develop a proposal for this stewardship transition. The second effort is to enhance ICANN’s governance and accountability mechanisms in light of the US Government’s transition away from its stewardship role.
This is an important moment in the history of ICANN; a testament to how the organisation and its community have matured.
We now have a multi-stakeholder model of governance and operational mechanisms that are ready to function on their own, led by a community of stakeholders rather than a central, top-down authority, having demonstrated the efficient management and coordination of the Domain Name System by ICANN and the Internet technical community over the past 16 years.
ICANN’s mission is to maintain an open, singular and secure Internet. The global Internet is a unique tool that brings together mankind. It is incumbent upon us all to keep that way: open, unique and global.
Working on increased access to an open, global, interoperable and expanding Internet is good for business and national economies.
And the opposite is true: if we compartmentalise the Internet, we would lose the vast benefits of cross-border exchanges, trading, free flow of information and knowledge, etc. that come with it.
[Tweet “Today, the Internet and everything to do with it is undergoing an evolution.”]
Everybody knows the importance of the Internet – as individuals, as organisations, as societies and as nations, making understanding the current evolution process the more imperative to us all. 2015 will be all about this evolution and how best to serve the global community in relation to the next phase of Internet Governance.
We invite you to join us as a participant or an observer along any portion of this journey. This is how we will together sustain a global, unified Internet.
Visit www.icann.org/stewardship to get involved.