NetChoice Executive Director Steve DelBianco testified at the US Senate Commerce Committee Hearing – Examining the Multistakeholder Plan for Transitioning the Internet Assigned Number Authority where he discussed the importance of avoiding unreasonable delays on the transaition.
As Steve DelBianco said in the hearings, far from protecting the Internet from the depredations of government, the special U.S. power made ICANN a target of governmental and intergovernmental concern all during WSIS and for 9 years thereafter.
Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, was part of the discussions regarding the shift of IANA power. He said that a delay would be “a direct slap in the face to a community that has worked for two years on this proposal.” He added that it would send the message that the U.S. is “not serious” about the proposal.
“Over 18 years and three administrations, the U.S. government has used light-touch oversight over ICANN [Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers],” Steve DelBianco, executive director of online business association NetChoice and policy chair for ICANN’s Business Constituency told the committee.
Proponents of the transition like NetChoice’s Steve DelBianco have said the transition has been long planned and there are numerous accountability measures in place.
“It is neither sustainable nor necessary for the U.S. government to retain its unique role forever,” DelBianco said. “And in fact, retaining that role increases the risks you are worried about.”
A delay “sends the signal the U.S. is not serious about the entire multi-stakeholder process that we charged with the mission of coming up with a transition proposal,” said Steve Delbianco, executive director of NetChoice. “We would indicate we want to relitigate this… That’s a direct slap in the face to a community that has worked for two years on this proposal.”
“We can’t test extreme emergency measures such as we’ve built over any period of a few months or even a few years,” Netchoice executive director Steve DelBianco argued. “The notion of a delay simply sends the signal that the U.S. believes that the role we hold is so valuable that we’re not giving it up, and we’ve reiterated to China, Russia and the United Nations that they want to step into those shoes. And that’s the biggest danger of the delay.”
Delbianco argued that transitioning to an international, multi-stakeholder program would actually diminish the likelihood that the Chinese communist regime dominates the Internet. “This is a development that would dramatically undermine the authoritarians’ arguments that only governments can truly manage something as powerful as the Internet,” he said in his written testimony.
The transition was not about giving away the internet, as one of the presidential candidates had described it, said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice Coalition. Instead, it was “not sustainable for the US to hold that power forever in the post-Snowden world.”
DelBianco at the same time underlined that the role of governments had been diminished by the transition to an oversight by an “empowered community.” Governments have “lost influence” through obligations on consensus and a potential challenge of the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) advice implementation through a community process.
Steve DelBianco, executive director fo NetChoice and an ICANN official, sounded confident. “We can do it,” he said. “We have finished the hard work of a report that has been cleared by all of the multistakeholder members. We now have to match bylaws to that report. We’ve got high-paid lawyers, both for ICANN and for the [stakeholder] community. And they need to come together roughly a week from now with a draft that we can review. When that’s done, the only other step is to implement the set-up of certain corporations and creating panels and we can do that in time to get this transition completed.”
DelBianco pointed out that NTIA chief Larry Strickling has said that if the new plan is not implemented by mid-August and the bylaws aren’t adopted “NTIA would extend the contract. We do have a safety valve.”