The United States is not ceding “control” of the Internet.
No foreign government is going to take over “control” of the Internet.
The Internet is NOT going to crumble.
Now that we have dispensed with the rhetoric some in the political world are putting forth as truths, let’s talk about the reality of the long-planned transition of the IANA functions currently provided by the US government.
When the Internet was first created and funded by the US government decades ago, both ICANN (the bottom-up policy development body) and IANA (the technical operation of the root zone server of the Internet) were setup to oversee the end-to-end operation of the Internet.
The US role in the operation of the Internet has often been described as “administrative in nature,” and that is a spot-on assessment. Yes, ensuring the root zone is managed under very tight controls is important but saying the US transitioning these responsibilities to the global Internet community is giving up “control” is simply not true.
Countless hours and many, many months of hard work by a group of internet technical and policy experts resulted in the community recommendations put forth earlier this year for the transition of the IANA functions. We fully support those efforts, and the responsible transition should occur as planned on September 30.
Is there still work to be done? Yes, and it’s important the remaining items in what’s known as “workstream 2” be finalized. Work Stream 2 represents those issues that have been identified as pending, but not impeding the progress needed to make the transition. Issues related to stakeholder accountability, government participation (meaningful participation, but NOT control), human rights and jurisdiction are absolutely imperative to work out, but they will be resolved. The ICANN community has proven itself capable of reaching consensus on much more complicated issues and there is nothing standing in the way of moving forward.
The global governance structure of the Internet is not insignificant and should be given serious and rational consideration. It’s of paramount importance that no single government is viewed as having control over this backbone of our global society.
Let’s hope the politicians have enough sense to listen to the technical and policy experts who have overwhelmingly indicated their support for this transition plan.
Don’t let political pandering distract from the important work that needs to be done. It’s time for the Internet to move into the next phase of its evolution.