A Trial Period Would Safeguard Internet freedom
WASHINGTON — Today, TechFreedom President Berin Szóka testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the “IANA transition,” which involves the United States relinquishing oversight of the Internet’s phone book: the domain name system. Szóka explained the risks of rushing the IANA transition and instead urged staggering the transition to ensure that reforms and safeguards are implemented at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which administers the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). At the end of September, the contract by which the Commerce Department governs the administration of the Domain Name System will lapse, formally handing control over to ICANN.
Szóka’s written testimony states:
As a skeptic of government in general, I support the Transition. I do not believe the U.S. government should be involved in the editing of the root zone file, the technical heart of the Internet. But I also worry about what will happen after the Transition. And I’m skeptical of the Administration’s assurances that all will turn out well.
President Obama’s Administration repeatedly assured Congress and the American people that it was more important to get the Transition right than to get it done on time. Unfortunately, the Administration has allowed political concerns to trump prudence and U.S. officials have downplayed and dismissed the many legitimate concerns that people have raised about the Transition because it wants the Transition to occur before the President leaves office. …
Put differently, I support a staggered transition, including a partial transition at the earliest time it can be managed legally. The partial transition would mean removing the U.S. government from the active role it currently has in the editing of the Root while maintaining a safety net to reassert that role in case things don’t turn out as planned — or simply to re-bid the function to some entity other than ICANN. That possibility, of ICANN losing the contract, has always been the real source of leverage by which the U.S. government has checked potential misbehavior by ICANN. A staggered transition is the only prudent course. And it’s also the only way to avoid tying the Transition up in U.S. courts. Instead of assuaging international concern about the U.S. role, a botched transition could greatly aggravate such concern.
A staggered transition is the only prudent course. And it’s also the only way to avoid tying the Transition up in U.S. courts. Instead of assuaging international concern about the U.S. role, a botched transition could greatly aggravate such concern.
Read Szóka’s oral testimony here.
We can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. See our other work on the IANA transition, including: