NTIA to Meet on Future of ICANN

Matt O'Conner
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will meet in July to decide whether ICANN, whose contract with the Commerce Department expires Sept. 30, will continue its role coordinating the Internet’s domain name system.

ICANN was created in the late 1990s as means to privatize the domain name system and to increase international participation in Internet governance. However, the organization operates under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Commerce Department that strictly defines its responsibilities and powers.

ICANN has frequently come under fire for the sometimes secretive and seemingly arbitrary nature of its decisions, including its recent rejection of ICM Registry’s proposal for a .XXX sponsored top-level domain. Numerous countries also have complained that ICANN is little more than a puppet for U.S. government policy, a perception that was reinforced by the years-long drama surrounding .XXX.

The NTIA is accepting public comment on ICANN prior to the meeting, titled “The Continued Transition of the Technical Coordination and Management of the Internet Domain Name and Addressing System.” Specifically, NTIA is seeking feedback in the following seven areas:

  • Whether the guiding principles set forth in the creation of ICANN — stability, competition, private management, bottom-up coordination and representation — have been achieved and are still relevant.
  • Whether the core tasks and milestones articulated in the MOU have been achieved.
  • Whether new or revised tasks and methods be considered, and on what time frame should they be implemented.
  • Whether all intended stakeholders are participating in the ICANN process and whether more stakeholders need to be included.
  • Whether supporting organizations and committees are encouraging meaningful participation from key stakeholders.
  • Methods, processes and technology tools that could improve responsiveness of governments to root management requests to address public policy and sovereignty issues.
  • Ways to enhance information exchange and cooperation among various groups and governments.
  • Comments can be sent to dnstransition@ntia.doc.gov.