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Internet Governance 20 October 2015

We're Almost There… IANA Stewardship Transition

Kathryn Brown
By Kathryn BrownFormer President / CEO

Since Friday, I have been listening to and, yes, talking to many in Dublin who are engaged in the multistakeholder effort to transition the IANA functions.

Our goal is an orderly transition that both reaffirms the strength of the global multistakeholder model while protecting and preserving the coordinated, well-functioning administration of the unique identifiers that are the core of the technical genius of the Internet.

There is a sense of momentum here in Dublin that feels like we are in reach of success as a Community.

The IANA Coordination Group (ICG) has a strong draft proposal on how to replace the role of the NTIA in a way that ensures the continued stability and security of the IANA functions. The co-chair has indicated that she intends to wrap up discussions on Friday.

As for accountability, it is always the case that the last bits of any agreement are the hardest–that’s why they are the last. The result of the CCWG’s work on Friday and Saturday seems like a breakthrough. The CCWG’s “escalation” slide[1] was clear –at least to me–in laying out a coherent and effective way forward no matter which model is ultimately chosen. It appears that the “dependencies” between the ICG and CCWG proposals (raised in our Comments and elsewhere) are on their way to being solved.

Moreover, and importantly, in the emerging proposal the community is empowered to ensure ICANN’s accountability to its stakeholders. This engagement-escalation-enforcement approach provides multiple opportunities for the community, the ICANN Board, and the ICANN staff to work together to resolve disputes via community consensus rather than turning immediately–or at all–to the courts. We think this is a very constructive approach that keeps power in the multistakeholder community where it belongs.

These refinements to strengthen accountability, to map out a path forward for the stable and secure operations of IANA, and to empower the ICANN community to exercise appropriate oversight over ICANN are most encouraging. Rough consensus has been the motto of the Internet for decades and we think we are moving towards that this week.

There comes a moment to grab consensus knowing that the community has done the hard work of satisfying the fundamentals of its Charter –meeting the criteria for success that has been set forth, not just by NTIA, but by and for itself. The ICG has proposed a plan that incorporates the solid recommendations of the operational communities and the CCWG is on the verge of doing the same for ICANN community empowerment in the new role that will be entrusted to ICANN at the conclusion of the transition. ISOC is, frankly, in awe of the work that has been done.

We believe getting the last bits resolved is possible — and probable — before this week ends.

[1] Slide 6 of the CCWG presentation.

Image credit: ICANN photos on Flickr

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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