Globalization of the IANA Functions Contract Explained

By Cathy Handley - Executive Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, ARIN

By Cathy Handley, Exec. Director Gov’t Affairs & Public Policy, ARIN

You have probably heard some buzz lately about a recent announcement from the U.S. government about plans to transition oversight of the IANA functions contract to the global multistakeholder community.  Headlines in the news have ranged from U.S. to relinquish remaining control over the Internet to The Internet Is About to Take Its Next Giant Evolutionary Leap.  Let’s take a look at what is really happening.

Internet Governance Blue Globe

The IANA Functions

First, taking a giant step backward, it’s important to know – what exactly are the IANA functions?  They are part of Internet infrastructure and include responsibility for allocating and maintaining the unique codes and numbering systems used in Internet technical standards. The specific IANA functions include:

  • Coordination of the assignment of technical Internet protocol parameters through the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
  • Administration of and coordination of Internet domain name system (DNS) root zone management
  • Allocation of Internet number resources to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs)
  • Management of the .ARPA and .INT top-level domains (TLDs)

The IANA Functions Contract

Historically the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has performed the IANA functions, on behalf of the United States Government, through a contract with National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  The first contract was awarded in 2000 and then again several more times up until the most recent contract in mid-2012. A few days ago the US government announced that it will begin the long-intended transition of these key Internet technical functions to the global multistakeholder community. As part of this process, ICANN will be responsible for spearheading the development a proposal by the global multistakeholder community for the transition of the current role played by NTIA in the coordination of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS).

ICANN Public Consultation Process

ICANN will work the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the Internet Society (ISOC), the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), top-level domain name operators, VeriSign, and other global stakeholders to develop a process to transition the NTIA out of the IANA functions and related root zone management.   ICANN has developed a document detailing the Public Consultation Process that will launch at their upcoming meeting Singapore later this month. Input from these initial community discussions will be compiled for public comment and community feedback to inform the process going forward.

Key in the US government announcement was the indication that no proposal that replaces the NTIA role with another government-led or an inter-governmental organization solution will be accepted.  No single country or international organization will be given charge over the IANA functions contract. Instead, the new plan must follow the multistakeholder model, protect the integrity of the Internet DNS, maintain Internet openness, and fulfill needs and expectations of those who rely on the IANA functions.

Why Globalize?

Globalization of IANA functions contract is critical in developing a true multistakeholder model of Internet governance.  Because the functions include the technical coordination of the global IP address pool and AS number space and Internet number resource allocation to the RIRs this is a subject near and dear to our heart.  We strongly believe that it is essential that the IANA functions are managed in a open, transparent, and globally-accountable manner. Along with leaders of other Internet technical organizations responsible for coordination of the Internet infrastructure, we welcome suggested changes related to the IANA functions contract are pleased to see the globalization of this role.

Opinion Statements

The Internet Technical leaders aren’t the only ones who issued a statement or provided some input on the US Government announcement on Friday.  Many others have as well.  Here are a few we found from organizations and individuals around the web (let us know in the comments of ones we may have missed):

Here’s where it all began:

 

POST WRITTEN BY:

Cathy Handley

Executive Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, ARIN