The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is holding its 49th Public Meeting in Singapore this week to discuss the transfer of stewardship responsibilities of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) Functions from the U.S. government to the global multi-stakeholder community.
Currently, the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is responsible for the procedural role of administering changes to the Domain Name Systems (DNS) to the authoritative root zone file — the database containing the lists of names and addresses of all top-level domains. It is also serving as the steward of unique identifiers registries for Domain names, IP addresses and protocol parameters.
However, the NTIA plans to hand over those responsibilities to the global community once the contract expires September next year. ICANN thus hopes that it will be able to develop new global Internet governance framework —based on the multi-stakeholder model in which opinions from the governments, private sector and civil society will be considered— to facilitate the move.
"The Internet is a global resource and all stakeholders deserve a voice in its governance," said Fadi Chehadé, ICANN's president and CEO, at the event in Singapore on Monday (24 March 2014). "The multi-stakeholder model validates and strengthens the idea that people can come together to manage Internet [even though it] is borderless and instant."
Besides being based on a multi-stakeholder model, the new framework needs to fulfill three other principles outlined by NTIA, said Chehadé. Following are the principles:
- The new framework needs to "attend to the needs of the whole global community, not just one part of the community or world."
- The framework should also not "jeopardise the openness of the Internet."
- The framework should maintain the "security, stability and resiliency" of the Internet.
"[ICANN] must continue to preserve the speed of decision-making processes, be relevant and responsive to industry and consumer needs and be able to look long term," said Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister of Communications and Information of Singapore, at yesterday's event. "It should also preserve the inclusive nature of the Internet to the global community."
As the Internet is the backbone of economic activities, enterprises and governments in Asia should actively participate in the discussions on how the Internet should be governed in future, urged Kuek Yu-Chuang, vice president and managing director for APAC at ICANN.
According to Chehadé, ICANN will be releasing the first set of documents outlining the transition on 7 April 2014.
Clearing the misunderstandings
Chehadé took the time at the event and press conference to clear some misunderstandings that arose after NTIA announced on 14 March 2014 its decision to transfer the stewardship responsibilities.
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