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What They're Saying: Why It's Important to Complete the IANA Stewardship Transition

In March 2014, NTIA initiated the final step in the privatization of the Internet’s domain name system   (DNS) by asking ICANN to convene its global stakeholders to develop a plan to transition the stewardship role NTIA plays related to the DNS technical functions, known as the IANA functions. In June, NTIA announced that, after a thorough review, the transition proposal developed by Internet stakeholders meets the criteria we outlined aimed at maintaining the stability, security, and openness of the Internet that users across the globe depend on today.

In recent days, many Internet stakeholders have talked about the importance of completing the transition and the potential negative impacts of a delay. Here’s what they are saying:

ACT | The App Association, American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), The Domain Name Association (TheDNA), Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), Internet Association, Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2coalition), NetChoice, Packet Clearing House, Afilias PLC, Amazon, Cloudflare, cPanel, Inc., Donuts Inc., Dropsuite, Dyn, Endurance, Facebook, Google, GoDaddy, Handy Networks, OnApp, Public Interest Registry, SingleHop, Tucows, Inc., Twitter, Yahoo:

“It is imperative that Congress does not take action to delay the October 1st transition date. The Internet is defined by its inclusivity and openness. Those critical characteristics are reflected in the work that – over the course of many months of open, transparent and inclusive discussion – went into the drafting of this transition proposal, which is ready to be executed. A global, interoperable and stable Internet is essential for our economic and national security, and we remain committed to completing the nearly twenty year transition to the multi­stakeholder model that will best serve U.S. interests.”

Access Now, ARTICLE 19, Center for Democracy & Technology, Greater Washington DC Internet Society Chapter, New America’s Open Technology Institute, New York City Internet Society Chapter, Niskanen Center, North American Regional Bureau, Internet Society, North Carolina Internet Society Chapter, Public Knowledge, Rebecca MacKinnon, San Francisco Bay Area Internet Society Chapter:

“We believe the best defense against foreign governments exerting control over the Internet is to finish the transition on time. The transition of these functions away from the US government removes an excuse for authoritarian countries to demand greater oversight and regulation of Internet issues.  Failure to move ahead with the IANA transition will empower those who advocate for governments alone to manage or regulate the Internet, and will encourage those who favor a governmental or intergovernmental model of Internet governance, whether implemented through the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU) or some other government­ dominated body.”

Internet Society, President and CEO Kathryn Brown:

“In our expert capacity, based on years of global experience in the Internet ecosystem, we are confident that the time for the transition is now and that the safeguards, processes, and mechanisms put forward in the IANA transition plan provide the right way to do it. The interests of all stakeholders, including the United States, will continue to be well-represented post-transition, and there is global consensus that completing this process is a positive step forward in the ongoing development of the open Internet. Blocking or delaying the transition at this point will have negative implications for the Internet and the millions of Americans who rely on it every day. The Internet Society urges you to ensure that there be no delay in the completion of this important work.”

Center for Democracy & Technology, Matthew Shears:

“Stopping or delaying the transition would undermine US government policy and the community’s approaches to internet policy around the globe, the upshot of which will be greater government controls, the loss of free expression and a weakening of multistakeholder internet policy globally.   Preventing the transition would undermine the communities and the structures of the internet ecosystem that responsibly manage the resiliency, stability and continuity of the DNS and the functioning of the internet.”

Access Now, Peter Micek:

“Delaying the transition would tell the world that the U.S. government doesn’t trust the multistakeholder processes that produced the consensus. This statement by Congress would contradict the support three U.S. presidents have given to privatizing the internet domain name system (DNS), and the U.S. government’s consistent call for inclusive internet governance. More importantly, though, delays signal to governments seeking to take over the internet that the time to strike is now. If the U.S. won’t let its contract with ICANN go — as its own technical experts at NTIA recommend — it becomes more likely that other governments will restrict what we say and do online. Human rights risks increase as the transition is further delayed.”

Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Eli Dourado:

“If we want to preserve, to the maximum extent possible, an open and borderless Internet, then the path is obvious: Allow the IANA transition to proceed, and then diplomatically twist arms to shut down the ITU’s telecommunication sector. This would keep Internet governance firmly in the hands of the private, multi-stakeholder community for several more decades. Alas, congressional Republicans seem eager to score one of the biggest own goals in Internet politics ever.”

Computer & Communications Industry Association President & CEO Ed Black:

“To ensure the continued stability and openness of the Internet, which bears directly on the economic and national security of the United States, the work of this broad community must not be delayed or halted.”

The Domain Name Association, Roy Arbeit:

“The DNA applauds the oversight role Congress has played throughout the transition. We believe the close attention paid by members and staff has directly led to a sharper product, helping ensure greater stability and accountability at ICANN. Given the success of that oversight, we now ask that Congress acknowledge the will of those impacted the most and allow the transition to occur in a timely manner.”

R Street Institute, Zach Graves and Anne Hobson:                                  

“Some conservatives claim Obama is ‘giving away the internet.’ In reality, the internet isn’t ours to give away. If Congress blocks the transition, it will only make it more likely that the internet will be hijacked by authoritarian governments and special interests.”