The US government today agreed to loosen the sway it has long held over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the private, non-profit body that oversees administration of the Internet's addressing system. Allowing an 11 year old and much revised "Joint Project Agreement" between the Commerce Department and ICANN to lapse, the two signed an "Affirmation of Commitments
" in which ICANN agreed to create international review teams to assess its transparency and accountability, its protection of the security of the domain name system, its approval of new domain names and domain names using non-Latin characters, and its management of a database identifying the owners of domain names.
CDT is pleased to see this reaffirmation of the bottom-up, private sector led model for governance of the domain names system. We're also pleased to see that this new document describes ICANN's role solely in terms of the technical management of the domain name system and does not speak more broadly of other Internet issues that should be outside ICANN's purview.
The big remaining questions of accountability are how can we create a system whereby anyone - a government, a business, an individual -- can appeal the decisions of the ICANN Board and by what standard will such appeals be judged. Those key questions could not have been answered at this time, but they do need to be answered.
CDT was involved in the process by which ICANN was created in 1998 and has been involved in the debate over its role and accountability ever since.
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