The US government is in the final stages of a long-term plan to transition its internet management role to ICANN, who has spent a decade building an independent, private sector organization. However, there are serious threats that should give the US government pause before it cuts the cord with ICANN.
Currently, the Commerce Department is hosting an open comment period as it nears a mid-term review of the agreement (called the Joint Project Agreement, or JPA) to transition ICANN to a fully independent organization. As part of this open commentary, we submitted an initial document that focused on the importance of preserving private sector leadership of the global Domain Name System in the post-JPA world.
We believe there is a very real threat that national governments could displace the private sector from its historical role as manager of the Internet’s domain name system. Russia is currently leading an effort to move ICANN under the United Nations with support from China, Iran, and other nations with Internet censorship ambitions.
While a completely independent ICANN is our ideal, without the USG’s current oversight role, ICANN could conceivably be “captured” by the governments that are today ICANN’s harshest critics – a scenario that no one wants. Until we can find a viable long-term solution to this threat, we believe that ICANN will not have met its most critical obligation under the JPA.
To see the entire letter we submitted today, please go to here.