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Remarks of Assistant Secretary Redl at ICANN 63

Remarks of David J. Redl
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information
ICANN 63 -- The Internet Technological Evolution and the Role and Impact of ICANN
Barcelona, Spain
October 22, 2018

--As Prepared for Delivery--

Thank you Director General Cierco for the introduction. Today our session will explore the impact of the technological evolution of the Internet on ICANN and the domain name system. We will hear from distinguished colleagues in government as well as from subject matter experts and an invited discussant.

To start the discussion, I would like to talk about how the United States sees the future of the Internet. For us, it all starts with security.

To put it simply, if the Internet is to continue to grow and thrive around the world, users need to be able to trust that the devices and networks they use will be secure. Technology is becoming more complex and more integrated into our daily lives, and that raises the stakes for the work that we do to ensure that building in security measures is priority No. 1 for all Internet-related companies.

At NTIA, the agency I lead, our work on cybersecurity and privacy initiatives seeks to give companies and consumers confidence in our connected future. We have convened stakeholders to improve the processes behind disclosing vulnerabilities in software as well as patching Internet of Things devices, to name just two examples.

Right now, we are in the middle of a process that is working through the potential of software component transparency, so that companies that are looking to integrate Internet of Things devices can better track and fix vulnerabilities.

All of our cybersecurity work is aimed at getting the incentives right so that there is a market for secure devices. If the least expensive option is also the least secure, consumers need to know what that means for their safety and security.

Our security-focused mindset is also a big reason why the U.S. is adamant that ICANN and the community develop a universal mechanism that permits lawful access to WHOIS information. 

WHOIS is a vital tool for cybersecurity, law enforcement, consumer protection and the enforcement of intellectual property rights. You can draw a straight line between allowing lawful access to WHOIS information for these purposes and ICANN’s Bylaw commitment to preserving and enhancing the operational stability, reliability, and security of the Internet.

Security will also be a major factor in the expansion of the Internet in the developing world. Increases in connectivity, technology and digital commerce shouldn't mean that you have to accept greatly increased risks. That would only incentivize staying in the 20th century. Our digital inclusion work in the developing world will be an essential test of our ability to establish trust in networks and technology.

Equally important, people around the world must be able to trust institutions, like ICANN, that make decisions about the Internet’s future. People need to feel confident that participating in ICANN is solely about our working toward our shared goals to expand connectivity and preserve a culture of digital innovation that benefits all.

While the community has greatly improved ICANN’s accountability through the IANA stewardship transition process, there are still improvements to be made. 

As one example, we need safeguards to ensure that ICANN staff and leadership are not only grounded ethically in their professional actions at ICANN, but also in their actions when they seek career opportunities outside of ICANN.

One potential fix could be “cooling off periods” for ICANN employees that accept employment with companies involved in ICANN activities and programs. This is an ethical way to ensure that conflicts of interest or appearances of unethical behavior are minimized.

With all that in mind, I am excited to begin our discussion today on the role that ICANN and other DNS organizations can play in creating more security, stability, and resiliency as the Internet continues its remarkable evolution.

Thank you.