The historical contractual relationship between the US government and the key Internet domain name functions entered a new phase with the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) announcement of March 2014 of its intent to delegate its oversight role to a global multistakeholder community. This process – initially intended to be finalised by 30 September 2015 (now extended until September 2016) – has also triggered a discussion on the accountability of ICANN and the minimum accountability pre-requisites for the transition to happen, separating it from a broader reform of ICANN in the post-transition period.
The CCWG-Accountability face-to-face meeting in Los Angeles (25-26 Sep) triggered intense discussions with the ICANN Board members on the second draft proposal for enhancing accountability. The meeting already stirred various reactions, including a blog post by Milton Mueller.
Close to 160 comments were submitted in reaction to the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination group (ICG) Interim Final Proposal to Transition the Stewardship of the IANA Functions. The 40-day public comment period was launched by the ICG on 31 July and ended on 8 September. The Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) also ran a 40-day comment period on its second draft proposal (which includes the public comments received on the initial draft report). Read the preliminary comments by the ICANN Board, and the comments by community.
NTIA's Lawrence Strickling announced NTIA's intention to extend the IANA contract with ICANN for one year to 30 September 2016, with options to extend the contract for up to three additional years beyond 2016, if needed.
CCWG-Accountability met in Paris on 17-18 July; the outcomes included: agreement to advance the Community Mechanism as Sole Member Model, one of three models; review of 31 GAC members' contributions on role of governments after the transition; broad agreements on elements of the Independent Review Process; and agreement that CCWG-Accountability will continue coordinating its activities with the Domain Names community (CWG-Stewardship). For more details, read the Paris Communiqué and the meeting documentation. Meanwhile, a third Work Party on Emerging issues (in addition to the WP1 on Community Empowerment, and WP2 on Review and Redress), was created earlier this year to propose recommendations on staff and management accountability, Supporting Organisations/Advisory Committees' accountability, enhancement of diversity, and board duties.
The US House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Internet Governance Progress After ICANN 53 took place on 8 July. During the hearing, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade and NTIA’s Larry Strickling described the developments so far and addressed the representatives' concerns. View the recording of the hearing and read the testimonies. Meanwhile, on 23 June, the House approved the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act to ensure congressional oversight over any proposed transition.
The transition process will extend until July 2016 (in the best case scenario), as noted by the ICG on 6 July and CCWG-Accountability on 3 July, in their replies to the NTIA letter of 6 May. The ICG's reply includes a timeline.
After several revisions, the final proposal by the CWG-Stewardship (Domain Names Community) was approved by the CWG-Stewardship’s five chartering organisations (GAC, SSAC, GNSO, ccNSO, ALAC) and forwarded to the ICG on 25 June.
More than one year ago, on 14 March 2014, the NTIA announced its intent to transition its oversight over key Internet domain name functions – domain names, number resources, and protocol parameters performed under the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) – to the global multistakeholder community by 30 September 2015. It asked ICANN to convene stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the stewardship function, a proposal that would subsequently need to be approved by the NTIA. The proposal would require broad support and should follow a number of principles:
After issuing a Scoping Document (8 April 2014), ICANN published the Process to Develop the Proposal and Next Steps (6 June 2014), following a month-long public consultation. This led to the formation of the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination group (ICG), comprising 30 members serving as liaisons to 13 different stakeholder communities. The ICG developed the assembly and finalisation process of the IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal for submission to the NTIA at the end of process, expecting proposals from three communities directly affected by the transition according to a detailed timeline:
The Numbering Resources and Protocol Parameters communities submitted their proposals in January. CWG-Stewardship published its first draft proposal on 1 December, which was open for comments until 22 December 2014. Significant input led CWG-Stewardship to reconsider its original draft with one model (Contract Co), and instead propose four models in a discussion document published right before ICANN 52: (i). Contract Co. and (ii). External Trust models (external); (iii). ICANN Internal Bylaw, and (iv). Internal Trust models (internal) (the models are also described here). After several rounds of discussions and legal counsel, CWG-Stewardship submitted its proposal in June 2015.
The change in the historic contractual relationship with the US government also triggered a broader accountability discussion within ICANN, responding to a set of concerns from the community related to the current and future role of ICANN. Following the accountability discussions at ICANN 49, in May 2014 ICANN published a proposed process on Enhancing ICANN Accountability, inviting comments from the ICANN community (6 May-27 June 2014, and again 6-27 September 2014) and suggesting the formation of an ICANN Accountability Working Group. The Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) was formed in October 2014 and focuses on two parallel work streams:
Several working group meetings have preceeded ICANN's regular meetings. CWG-Stewardship has also been heavily involved in the accountability. Legal counsel has been sought by the working groups throughout the process.
In June, the chartering organisations of CWG-Stewardship – GAC, SSAC, GNSO, ccNSO, and ALAC – approved the community’s final proposal (dated 11 June 2015) which is now with the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG). The ICG is expected to synthesise the three proposals from the Naming Community, the Numbering Resources and Protocol Parameters communities.
The parallel track of accountability also moved forward with a face-to-face meeting in Buenos Aires preceding ICANN 53, in which the accountability architecture proposed (based on four building blocks: an empowered community, the Board, the Bylaws and the Independent Review Process) was discussed. More face-to-face meetings will take place in the coming weeks. ICANN’s next meeting will take place in October in Dublin.
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – ICANN coordinates the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, which are key technical services critical to the continued operations of the Internet's underlying address book, the Domain Name System (DNS). Read more
National Telecommunications and Information Administration – The NTIA, located within the US Department of Commerce, is the Executive Branch agency that is principally responsible by law for advising the President on telecommunications and information policy issues in the United States. Read more