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Internet Governance 26 June 2015

IANA Stewardship Transition: A major milestone passed on the path towards globalizing the Internet

Sally Shipman Wentworth
By Sally Shipman WentworthVice President of Global Policy Development

As the ICANN 53 meeting in Buenos Aires wraps up this week, all the IANA operational communities—the IETF, the RIRs, and ICANN—have now submitted to the IANA Coordination Group (ICG) their proposals for transitioning the IANA Stewardship. The operational communities and the entire Internet community have taken a great amount of responsibility for, and applied an amazing amount of energy to, the task of creating an IANA stewardship proposal that will eventually be submitted to the NTIA for final approval.

This is a historic moment. The transition of the IANA functions away from one single government is a milestone in the progressive management of critical resources of the Internet. It signifies the maturity of both the multistakeholder model and of the communities supporting the administration and governance of the Internet. The work that the communities have collectively put into the open and inclusive processes used to develop their proposals is proof of the value of the collaborative, multistakeholder model.

Chaired by Alissa Cooper, the ICG, including Narelle Clark and Demi Getschko appointed by the Internet Society, now has critical work to do to assemble and evaluate these proposals. After spending the week in Buenos Aires, where both the ICG and the ICANN community met, I am optimistic that the remaining outstanding issues that are identified in the ICG will be resolved in time to keep the IANA Transition process on track. For example, the ICANN community must complete its own work to strengthen the accountability mechanisms in place for the ICANN organization. The accountability discussions were actively underway in Buenos Aires, and we are hopeful that a consensus on these issues will emerge in time the for the next ICANN meeting in October.

By now, we all realize that the process won’t be completed by 30 September, when the IANA contract is currently scheduled to end. Of course this contract expiration date was never a deadline. The contract provides provisions for extensions, and the NTIA is expected to announce the exact length of the extension following an ongoing consultation with the ICG and the respective communities.

While the ICANN meeting was underway, related action was taking place a hemisphere away as the US Congress took steps towards passing a revised version the DOTCOM Act. This act appears to be entirely congruent with the IANA Steward Transition process so far, and supports the timeline envisioned by the community going forward. In simple terms, the DOTCOM Act provides an additional legal and political framework for the Transition.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that the community reaches a consensus on a proposal andt provides a foundation for the continued stable and open operation of the IANA functions. The sustained level of cooperation and collaboration among the operational communities is an demonstration of the diligence with which they are addressing this task. And while a significant amount of work remains, we end the week in Buenos Aires with optimism that we are well on the way towards a successful transition of the IANA functions to the multistakeholder community.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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