Questions about ICANN by the NTIA

The recent news from the primordial alphabet soup that is the United States government and ICANN is that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) just issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comments about the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) with ICANN and its scheduled expiration in September 2009. Comments must be submitted by June 8, 2009.

By way of explanation, ICANN works under loose NTIA supervision based on a ten-year-old-plus agreement called the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that transferred the technical management of the Domain Name System to ICANN. ICANN operated under that agreement until 2006 when it was extended via the JPA.

At that time there was a midterm review of the JPA that identified that ICANN needed to make progress on long-term stability accountability responsiveness continued private sector leadership stakeholder participation increased contract compliance and enhanced competition. MarkMonitor submitted comments during that period on behalf of our customers.

In the face of the impending expiration of the JPA the NTIA asks some of the following Hamlet-like questions about ICANN in their NOI:

  1. Is ICANN operating under the right principals and if so has it integrated those principals?
  2. Did privatization lead to good policy and is the model still appropriate given the goal of security and stability of the DNS? If not is there a more appropriate model?
  3. Has ICANN accomplished the tasks and hit the milestones set forth in the JPA and amendments to it?
  4. Should ICANN be independent? If so what are the steps to making it such?

The full text of the NTIA NOI can be found at :

Updated to fix formatting error on May 15 2009 at 3:50pm.