Extension & Partial Transition Needed to Address Remaining Questions

WASHINGTON — TechFreedom today released a white paper explaining concerns about the transition in Internet governance that the Commerce Department plans to complete at the end of September by allowing to lapse a contract it has held since 1998 governing administration of the Domain Name System, the technical heart of the Internet. The paper details twelve sets of concerns about the so-called IANA transition, explaining:

We support the multi-stakeholder model. We do not believe any government should control or own the Internet. We do not oppose the “Transition” —  wherein multi-stakeholders would assume the current U.S. oversight responsibilities over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). But we do oppose rushing the Transition before critical questions are resolved. We recommend extending the contract for a year or two to vet the proposal and complete all of the reforms sought by the community. …

We worry that approving the Transition prematurely will set the multi-stakeholder model up to fail. We fear that governments will gain new influence over the Internet, that Internet freedom will suffer, and that the ICANN leadership (CEO and staff) will continue its troubling pattern of cavalierly ignoring its bylaws and procedures while the ICANN Community proves too fractious to hold the leadership accountable.

What’s needed now is a “test drive” — a trial period of a year or two in which the U.S. withdraws and allows the new ICANN to operate autonomously, but with the possibility of reasserting its traditional role if unforeseen problems arise, if ICANN resists additional reforms, or if the multi-stakeholder community determines that the new bylaws or governance structure are insufficient to hold ICANN accountable.

The white paper explores each of the twelve concerns in depth. The paper is co-authored by Berin Szóka, President of TechFreedom; Paul Rosenzweig, a Visiting Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and formerly served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Department of Homeland Security; and Brett Schaefer, the Jay Kingham Senior Research Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs at The Heritage Foundation.


We can be reached for comment at media@techfreedom.org. See our other work on the IANA transition, including:

About TechFreedom:

TechFreedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.