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U.S. Management of the Internet:

U.S. Management of the Internet: Where does it stand?

Yesterday, the Department of Commerce held a public meeting to discuss progress made by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in managing the Internet’s domain name system.

ICANN is currently operating the Domain Name System (DNS) under an agreement with the U.S. government. That agreement expires this September.

The Commerce Department meeting was intended to let stakeholders comment on whether ICANN is ready to become the standalone manager of the DNS universe. My comments echoed the overwhelming sentiment expressed at the hearing: “ICANN is not now ready to go it alone.”

One major concern of private sector stakeholders is that ICANN is not yet strong and independent enough to withstand pressure from governments and groups like the United Nations.

Another concern is whether ICANN can ensure security and stability of the Internet. e-Commerce leaders are particularly concerned that security risks and abusive practices in the domain name marketplace are overwhelming ICANN’s ability to implement new policies and reforms.

There was also a lot of talk regarding the need for openness and transparency of ICANN. As ICANN formulates policies it is paramount that key stakeholders are more effectively involved in the ICANN process. ICANN’s processes should be changed to improve the reach, timeliness and relevance of stakeholder involvement.

The bottom line is that the transition period needs to be extended beyond this September. ICANN is simply not now ready to manage the domain name system on its own.