The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has launched a process to transition the role of the United States Government relating to the Internet’s unique identifiers system.
ICANN’s announcement comes on the heels of an historic announcement by the U.S. Government stating that it is ready to transfer its stewardship of the important Internet technical functions to the global Internet community. The U.S. Government’s current responsibilities to be transitioned include the procedural role of administering changes to the Domain Name System’s (DNS) to the authoritative root zone file – the database containing the lists of names and addresses of all top-level domains – as well as serving as the historic steward of the unique identifiers registries for Domain names, IP addresses, and protocol parameters.
In doing so, the U.S. recognized ICANN’s maturation in becoming an effective multistakeholder organization and requested that ICANN convene the global community to develop the transition process from of the U.S. stewardship to a global community consensus-driven mechanism.
The first community-wide dialogue about the development of the transitional process is ongoing until March 27 during ICANN’s 49th Public Meeting in Singapore.
“We are inviting governments, the private sector, civil society, and other Internet organizations from the whole world to join us in developing this transition process,” said Fadi Chehadé, ICANN’s President and CEO. “All stakeholders deserve a voice in the management and governance of this global resource as equal partners.”
Independent of the U.S. transition, the roles of the Internet technical organizations, including ICANN’s role as administrator of the Internet’s unique identifier system, remain unchanged. The Internet’s Unique Identifier functions are not apparent to most Internet users, but they play a critical role in maintaining a single, global, unified and interoperable Internet.
“Even though ICANN will continue to perform these vital technical functions, the U.S. has long envisioned the day when stewardship over them would be transitioned to the global community,” said Dr. Stephen D. Crocker, ICANN’s Board Chair. “In other words, we have all long known the destination. Now it is up to our global stakeholder community to determine the best route to get us there.”
“The global multistakeholder process is defined by inclusion, and it will take some time to make sure that we obtain all of the necessary inputs,” said Chehadé. “By the time the current contract with the U.S. Government expires in September 2015, we will have a defined and clear process for global multistakeholder stewardship of ICANN’s performance of these technical functions.”
Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister of Communications and Information said that Singapore was committed to such a multi-stakeholder approach. “This global body must continue to preserve the speed of decision-making processes, be relevant and responsive to industry and consumer needs, and be able to look long term. It should also preserve the inclusive nature of the Internet to the global community,” he added.