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.