On the Future of ICANN and the Internet
On Friday we filed comments with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) regarding the future of Internet governance. NTIA has weighty issues to consider as it lays a course that will affect the future of the Internet. Under the current governance structure, the California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) oversees the global Domain Name System (DNS) under a contract with the US Government. That contract expires in September, and NTIA took the opportunity to ask the public how ICANN is doing, and how close the organization is to being able to stand on its own. When ICANN was created in 1998, the idea was that it would operate under US Government oversight for two years while it established itself on the global stage, and then would become completely autonomous. That transition has yet to happen, and NTIA asked the public to discuss what steps ICANN still has to take to be able to stand without ties to the US Government. The stakes in the discussion are high. On one hand, the international community is increasingly dissatisfied with the United States playing a special role in Internet management, and that dissatisfaction poses a potentially destabilizing threat. On the other hand, cutting ICANN loose before it is ready could cause major problems. In our comments, we urge the NTIA to examine what safeguards may need to be put in place to ensure that if and when ICANN does cut its tethers, it is not inadvertently exposed to new dangers in the evolving global environment.