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What They're Saying: Reaction to NTIA's Assessment of the IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal

June 16, 2016

A week ago, NTIA announced that the proposal developed by the Internet multistakeholder community to transition the U.S. Government’s stewardship role for the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions met the criteria NTIA outlined in March 2014. The announcement was an important milestone in the U.S. Government’s effort to complete the privatization of the Internet’s domain name system. The transition will help ensure the continued leadership of the private sector in making decisions related to the technical underpinning of the Internet, which has helped the Internet thrive as a platform for innovation, economic growth, and free speech.

NTIA worked with other U.S. Government agencies and conducted a thorough review of the Internet community’s proposal to ensure it met our criteria. NTIA also found that the proposal adequately addressed relevant internal control principles, in a review recommended by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). In addition, a panel of corporate governance experts concluded that the plan is consistent with the sound principles of good governance.

NTIA’s assessment of the proposal has earned praise from a range of individuals, industry organizations and civil society groups. Here’s what they are saying:

Freedom House, Freedom on the Net Director Sanja Kelly:

“NTIA’s announcement brings us another step closer to ensuring that the internet remains an open platform not dominated by a single entity—whether it be a government, the private sector, or any other force. The current U.S. government oversight of the central DNS functions is largely symbolic but has given authoritarian regimes cover for demanding greater regulation of the internet through the UN and other international bodies. The current plans for privatization include strong safeguards to prevent that from happening, but close public attention will remain critical to make sure the plan unfolds as intended.”

Internet Society, President and CEO Kathryn Brown:

“The announcement comes after a thorough, 90-day review. It reaffirms the value and power of the multistakeholder bottom-up process. Importantly, it puts to rest any concern about capture or control of IANA by any one stakeholder. In the transition proposal, no single party has undue control, and there are protocols in place to prevent any individual, organization or government from seizing jurisdiction or excluding others from the stewardship process.”

Internet Association, Computer & Communications Industry Association and Internet Infrastructure Coalition:

“The internet economy applauds NTIA for its deliberative and thorough work reviewing the ICANN transition proposals to ensure its principles for a successful transition are met.  Our organizations agree that the proposals to transition ICANN from U.S. government stewardship to a bottom-up, multistakeholder model satisfy NTIA principles and provide the internet with the best path forward for self-governance.  It is important that Congress not artificially slow down the transition beyond the September 30 expiration of the current IANA contract.”

Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Research Fellow Eli Dourado:

“The Internet will be significantly more free when no government controls the IANA resources because then those resources will no longer be diplomatic chits to be haggled for. While I am disappointed that some of our friends in Washington have staked out a strong anti-transition position, I am hopeful that the transition will proceed without significant Congressional intervention and we can avoid yet another intergovernmental fight over Internet governance.”

Global Commission on Internet Governance; Carl Bildt, Gordon Smith, Fen Osler Hampson, Patricia Lewis, Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, Dominic Barton, Pablo Bello, Moez Chakchouk, Michael Chertoff*, Anriette Esterhuysen, Hartmut Glaser, Dorothy Gordon, Dame Wendy Hall, Joseph S. Nye, Sir David Omand, Latha Reddy, Marietje Schaake, Paul Twomey, Pindar Wong:

“We commend the international Internet community for coming together in response to that call to develop a workable plan. The dedication and energy committed by all stakeholders shows that the multi-stakeholder model is robust enough to ensure the stability of the Internet’s key functions far into the future. We now call upon the U.S. government to adopt that plan and to meet the September 2016 target date for the transition of the IANA functions. Failure to do so will send the wrong message to the international community, increase distrust, and will likely encourage some governments to pursue their own national or even regional Internets.”

*On June 7, Chertoff and Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright published an article titled “How to keep the Internet free and open.” They wrote that the transition proposal is “quintessentially American policy” and that “it will pave the way for American values and the free and open Internet around the world.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Center for Global Regulatory Cooperation Senior Director and Policy Counsel Adam Schlosser:

“The U.S. Chamber appreciates the thorough analysis put forth by NTIA. We continue to support the long-planned transition of IANA functions and the much-needed improvements to overall ICANN accountability. The report by NTIA indicates the proposal is on the correct path to fulfill the goals of the multistakeholder community both from a technical and accountability standpoint.”

Google, Chief Internet Evangelist Vinton G. Cerf:

NTIA has accepted ICANN's proposed IANA Transition plan. I am glad to see this milestone.

— vinton g cerf (@vgcerf) June 9, 2016

Public Knowledge, Vice President Carolina Rossini:

“The approval of a timely transition will help preserve the stability, security, and resiliency of the Domain Name System. The NTIA’s evaluation of the transition’s implementation sends a clear message that the internet is not only in the domain of national governments, but that users around the world also have an essential role in shaping its future.”

United States Council for International Business, President and CEO Peter Robinson:

“NTIA’s approval of the plan highlights its strength and the broad support it has received from all stakeholders. We have worked tirelessly to help shape a plan that will enable a seamless transition of DNS stewardship functions and preserve the fundamental openness of the Internet, and we’re thrilled that NTIA shares our view.”

NetChoice, Executive Director Steve DelBianco:

“It’s no surprise that this report confirms that the community proposals meet NTIA’s conditions, since we were tuned-in to those requirements from the start. We’re also pleased that Berkman Center concluded that our proposals would effectively prevent capture of ICANN by governments. … Some members of Congress have lingering doubts about this transition, but the protections are in place — to include ICANN’s headquarters remaining in the U.S. — to ensure that free expression and free enterprise will prevail in the domain name system at the core of the Internet.”

ACT | The App Association, President Jonathan Zuck:

“Both NTIA and the Berkman Center have endorsed a plan for ICANN accountability, which was born of a truly [multistakeholder] process to build the stronger, more independent ICANN that has always been intended. Participation in this historic effort has been a personal highlight for me in my 18 years at the App Association. While there’s more work to be done, this is an incredibly important milestone. ICANN and the internet will be stronger for this effort.”

European Commission, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip:

“The internet's strength comes from how it is openly and reliably distributed. The world needs it to be stable, secure and robust. It needs to be accountable and subject to the rule of law. A good test of that model's success will be this year's transition of the IANA function from its supervision by the U.S. government to a global multistakeholder model. The European Commission is committed to a successful and timely conclusion of this transition, with no unjustified delays.”

European Commission, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger:

Good & important decision: @NTIAgov confirms that #IANA Stewardship Transition proposal meets criteria #eurodig16

— Günther H. Oettinger (@GOettingerEU) June 10, 2016