The advancement of the Internet governance system
2014 has been a year marked by a number of important milestones which are aimed at developing a new and stronger Internet governance frameworks and mechanisms. The first major event would be the NETmundial meeting that took place in April this year, hosted in Brazil, that provided an opportunity for the global multi-stakeholder community to debate share and develop strategic guidelines and policies, including a roadmap for the future development of the governance and coordination of the Internet.
Another equally important milestone has been the announcement by the United States Department of Commerce through its National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to hand over control of the Internet Addressing and Numbering Authority (IANA) to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This handover is dependent on ICANN fulfilling specific obligations as set out by the NTIA including the effective management of the transition from the NTIA to ICANN. Although this announcement was met by much approval and support, there is still a considerable amount of work to be done to ensure a smooth and successful transition of such a legacy system and ensuring that adequate consultation is undertaken with all concerned stakeholders.
In order to prepare for the official transition which is intended to take place by September 2015; the ICG (IANA transition Coordination Group) has been created and tasked to consolidate all inputs from various communities and develop a proposal that details guidelines that will ensure that new IANA, independent of the NTIA, will continue to be accountable and secure. In doing so, the group needs to ensure that the document reflects the following criteria:
- Supports and enhances the multistakeholder model
- Maintains the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet domain name system (DNS)
- Meets the needs and expectations of the global customers and partners of the IANA services, and
- Maintains the openness of the Internet.
With the transition underway, a number of stakeholders have voiced their concerns about the existing accountability measures within ICANN and recommended that adequate accountability systems be placed prior to the transition including ensuring globalisation of ICANN and its functions. Most importantly, that the process remain transparent and open, that it facilitate contributions from outside the Internet technical community, that it satisfies the NTIA’s principles and expectations of the global Internet community and that it is anchored by appropriate accountability mechanisms. A consistent theme throughout the Internet governance meetings has been the importance of a truly representative, open multistakeholder model that safeguards and upholds the most dynamic communication platform to exist; the IANA transition and the future developments to follow should be a reflection of that.