The internet management body Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has submitted its official transition plan for key technical Internet functions to be removed from US government control and placed under “global stewardship.”
The plan to lessen US government control of core Internet functions has been in the works for quite a while now. Back in March 2014, the US government agreed to end its direct oversight of ICANN, following years of international pressure.
The American government asked ICANN to lead international talks aimed at establishing a new organisational model, and the ambition was to make the organisation independent by late 2015
“The plan has now been sent to the US Government for its review, and assuming it meets the necessary criteria, we will have reached an historic moment in the history of the Internet.”
The transition plan is said to be “comprehensive” and calls for the transition of US government’s stewardship of technical functions, called the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), which are critical to the Internet’s smooth operation.
Icann is headquartered in Los Angeles, and was created in 1998 to oversee functions such as IANA.
Its responsibilities include maintaining the stable and secure functioning of the Internet, including coordination of the Internet Protocol address spaces, assignment of address blocks to regional Internet registries, maintaining registries of Internet protocol identifiers and managing the top-level domain name space, the DNS root zone, including operation of the root name servers.
The new plan also proposes ways to enhance ICANN’s accountability as a fully independent organisation.
“The Internet community has exhibited remarkable dedication to the IANA stewardship transition because we know just how important it is to complete,” said Alissa Cooper, Chair of the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG). “Internet users the world over stand to benefit from its stability, security, and accountability enhancements to Internet governance once the proposal takes effect.”
It was no easy process to deliver the plan. To develop the plan in the first place took more than 600 meetings and calls, more than 32,000 mailing list exchanges, and more than 800 working hours.
The US government will now review the plan, and if approved, implementation is expected to be completed prior to the expiration of the contract between NTIA and ICANN in September 2016.
The move will be welcomed in many quarters, and comes after concerns over the US government’s influence over the Internet, particularly in the wake of the US National Security Agency (NSA) mass-surveillance scandal.
The European Union has led calls for the US government to have less control of the Internet. It also believes there is a secret war being waged by nation states over the control of the Internet.
This was evidenced in 2012, when Russia, UAE, China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan, and Egypt demanded some powers should be transferred from ICANN to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency of the United Nations (UN).
Following a backlash from the US authorities and their allies, this proposal was later withdrawn.
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