Laying the Groundwork for the IANA Transition

by Theresa Swinehart on March 26, 2014

We started dialogue this week at ICANN’s 49th meeting in Singapore on the next steps to take following the United States government’s announcement on 14 March that it would transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community.

I’ve heard some people call it "a process to begin a process": yes, it is important to be cautious and deliberate in determining our next steps. The work we do now is an important step for how we proceed. While it is tempting to want to jump straight to the heart of the matter, we must first be sure that we all agree on the initial process.

You can join the conversation by reviewing the transcripts of discussions and related presentations at http://singapore49.icann.org/en/schedule/mon-iana-accountability. Share your thoughts and comments via email to ianatransition@icann.org.

We are collecting various inputs from the ICANN 49 meeting, including the public forum on Thursday, and will circulate a summary document to the community on 7 April so that further comments can be made. The summary will focus on a multistakeholder designed process, proposed timeline, and specific next steps, and will be posted for public input and discussion to ensure that the global communities inside and outside ICANN can participate in the planning for the process. Anything received on the mail list will be included. The ianatransition@icann.org list will remain open for the discussions. 

‪Additional information on the transition can be found at: http://www.icann.org/en/about/agreements/iana/transition 

Additional information about the IANA functions can be found at:
http://www.icann.org/en/about/agreements/iana/transition/iana-factsheet-24mar14-en.pdf

The Internet Technical Community Response
In relation to the process, the Internet technical community welcomed this announcement. As a contribution to the dialogue on how the role of the USG can be transitioned, the leaders of organizations including the IETF, the Internet Society (ISOC), and W3C discussed what this could mean in practice, and the text below is a contribution to the dialogue.

Status of the text below: This is something that some leaders of technical Internet organizations have agreed is a reasonable starting point for discussing how the role of the U.S. government can be transitioned to the Internet community. It is a starting point only, and not something that has been agreed by our respective communities.

In order to ensure global acceptance and affirmation of ICANN’s role as administrator of the IANA functions, we are now pursuing the transition of USG’s stewardship of the IANA functions from the USG to ICANN. The roles of all Internet registry policy bodies (such as the RIRs, IAB, IETF, ASO, ccNSO, ccTLD ROs, and gNSO) stay unchanged. These bodies continue to hold policy authority for the protocol parameter, number, and name spaces, including responsibility to ensure the faithful registry implementation according to those policies.

This transition from the USG has been envisaged since the early days of ICANN. It is now feasible due to the growing maturity of ICANN and other organisations in the Internet ecosystem. ICANN’s structures and accountability mechanisms continue to evolve and advance guided by the AoC community reviews, including ATRT. In addition, ICANN will continue to embrace its aggressive roadmap to truly globalize its structures.

In order to operationalize the transition from USG, ICANN will engage with the Internet community in a bottom-up public consultation process to ensure appropriate accountability mechanisms. In addition, ICANN will work with the names, numbers, and protocol communities to formalize relationships, commitments, and mutual responsibilities.

When community stakeholders have input about the policies emanating from the names, numbers, and protocol communities, they would be directed to pursue their interests through the relevant Internet communities (such as the gNSO, ccNSO, ccTLD ROs, ASO, IAB, IETF, or the RIRs) and their mechanisms for consideration and potential redress.

The IETF, IAB, and RIRs are committed to open and transparent processes. They also are committed to the role of ICANN as the IANA protocol parameter and IP address registry operator. The accountability mechanisms for ICANN’s administration of these core Internet functions will provide escalation routes that assure the names, numbers, and protocol communities that if IANA’s performance is lacking, those communities can pursue defined processes for improving performance, including pre-agreed independent 3rd party arbitration processes.

ICANN reaffirms its commitment to implement all IANA registry functions in accordance with the respective policies. ICANN will also provide affirmations to all stakeholders (including governments) from all Internet registry policy bodies and itself that all of us will use open and transparent processes.

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