Today, 1 October 2016, the contract between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the United States Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), to perform the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, has officially expired. This historic moment marks the transition of the coordination and management of the Internet’s unique identifiers to the private-sector, a process that has been committed to and underway since 1998.
“This transition was envisioned 18 years ago, yet it was the tireless work of the global Internet community, which drafted the final proposal, that made this a reality,” said ICANN Board Chair Stephen D. Crocker. “This community validated the multistakeholder model of Internet governance. It has shown that a governance model defined by the inclusion of all voices, including business, academics, technical experts, civil society, governments and many others is the best way to assure that the Internet of tomorrow remains as free, open and accessible as the Internet of today.”
Internet users will see no change or difference in their experience online as a result of the stewardship transition.
In managing the coordination of the Internet’s unique identifiers, ICANN plays a small but significant role in the Internet’s ecosystem. For more than 15 years, ICANN has worked in concert with other technical bodies such as the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Regional Internet Registries, top-level domain registries and registrars, and many others.
The final chapter of the privatization process began in 2014, when NTIA asked ICANN to convene the global multistakeholder community, which is made up of private-sector representatives, technical experts, academics, civil society, governments and individual Internet end users, to come together and formulate proposals to both replace NTIA’s historic stewardship role and enhance ICANN’s accountability mechanisms.
The package of proposals developed by the global community met the strict criteria established by NTIAin its March 2014 announcement. Since their submission to NTIA, ICANN and its various stakeholder groups have worked tirelessly to ensure that all the necessary implementation tasks have been completed, so the IANA functions contract could expire on 30 September 2016.
The proposals reinforce ICANN’s existing multistakeholder model and are also aimed at enhancingICANN’s accountability. The improvements include empowering the global Internet community to have direct recourse if they disagree with decisions made by ICANN the organization or the Board.
The IANA stewardship transition is a testament to the tireless work of the global community, and a validation of the multistakeholder model that frames that community.