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Fact Sheet: The IANA Stewardship Transition Explained

September 14, 2016
  • The IANA transition is the culmination of a nearly 20-year effort to privatize the Internet domain name system (DNS). This has been a goal of Democratic and Republican administrations since 1997. The U.S. Government has worked with businesses, technical experts, governments, and civil society to establish a multistakeholder, private-sector led system for the global coordination of the DNS.
  • The transition is not a radical proposal being rushed through by President Obama. The transition has been the policy of the U.S. Government for nearly two decades spanning three administrations. The transition plan was developed through consensus during the past two years by hundreds of stakeholders around the world. Stakeholders are ready for this transition now.
  • For the average Internet user, nothing will change. The DNS will continue to operate basically the same way it does today and users will not be affected.
  • The transition will help maintain the open global Internet. The IANA transition will help maintain the global open Internet by supporting and enhancing the multistakeholder approach to Internet governance. The multistakeholder approach is a key reason why the Internet has grown and thrived. It brings businesses, technical experts, civil society groups, and other stakeholders together to solve policy and technical challenges on a consensus basis.
  • The transition promotes Internet freedom. The best way to preserve Internet freedom is to depend on the community of stakeholders who own and operate, transact business and exchange information over the Internet. Free expression is protected by the open, decentralized nature of the Internet, the neutral manner in which the technical aspects of the Internet are managed, and the commitment of stakeholders to maintain openness.
  • The IANA transition is in the best interest of U.S. businesses and global e-commerce. American and global businesses rely on a global, interoperable, and secure Internet DNS to facilitate the free flow of goods and services online. The IANA transition will preserve a secure, stable, and resilient Internet DNS, which is why businesses of all sizes support the transition.
  • The U.S. Government opposes United Nations control of the Internet. The transition plan does not replace NTIA’s role with a government-led or intergovernmental solution. Corporate governance experts found the prospects for a takeover of ICANN to be extremely remote. ICANN is in no way akin to the United Nations.
  • ICANN is a California corporation and will remain so. The stakeholder community has spent the last two years building an accountability regime for ICANN that relies on California law and on ICANN remaining a California corporation. ICANN’s bylaws confirm that "the principal office for the transaction of the business of ICANN shall be in the County of Los Angeles, State of California, United States of America." ICANN's Board cannot change this bylaw over the objection of the stakeholder community.
  • ICANN does not have antitrust immunity. U.S. competition laws will continue to apply to ICANN, as they do today. The Department of Justice did not identify any significant competitive issues relating to the IANA stewardship transition.
  • The transition does not involve the transfer or other disposal of U.S. government property in violation of the Constitution.
  • The United States does not control the Internet. No one controls or owns the Internet. It is a decentralized network of networks that has operated with the cooperation and through the consensus of a wide array of stakeholders, predominantly from the private sector. The Internet is not ours to give away. By supporting multistakeholder Internet governance, we make certain the Internet becomes no other nations’ to take.