The IANA Transition and ICANN Marrakech

The IANA Transition and ICANN Marrakech

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the corporation responsible for the global assignment and management of names and Internet protocol numbers on the Internet.  The system of matching these names and numbers is known as the Domain Name System and this has come into the spotlight recently in the form of the debates surrounding the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) Transition.  The IANA transition is the process where ICANN responded to global events and discussions to reassign the control of its IANA function in order to shift from being subject to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a division of the United States Department of Commerce.  The contract between ICANN and NTIA concludes in September 2016 and just under two years ago, this community to deliver a plan that would facilitate this transition gave the ICANN multistakeholder community.

Creating and establishing this plan has taken thousands of hours and hundreds of meetings which marks a huge change in ICANN’s mandate and functioning to ensure that the Internet governance structure is characterized by a bottom-up, multistakeholder model.

The ICANN Marrakech meeting which was held from the 5th to the 10th of March 2016 was both a pleasant one and a sad one for the community.  It was sad due to the community having to bid Fadi Chehade farewell as the president of ICANN after having served since 2012.  Chehade was succeeded by Goran Marby, an experienced business executive and government leader.  The meeting was also a special one as the IANA stewardship process was finalized on the last day of the meeting.

The prescribed plan established is a true testimony of the hard work the Internet community has put in and the strength of the multistakeholder model, and it also marks a huge moment in the history of the Internet.  The community concluded the Marrakech meeting with an agreement on a package that would move the IANA functions from the control of the US government to that of global stewardship, it was also proposed that ICANN works on procedures to increase accountability as a fully independent organization.  The meeting concluded with leaving the US government delegation given the responsibility of ensuring the package meets NTIA’s criteria which was set out two years ago.  This criteria included:

  • Ensuring the package meets the security, stability and resilience of the Domain Name System;
  • The package meets the needs and expectations of the global customers and partners of the IANA functions; and
  • The package maintains the openness of the Internet

Should these criteria be met, the implementation is expected to be concluded before the expiration of the contract, in September 2016.

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