Plan to End US Control of ICANN Submitted to Brazil Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance

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Plan to End US Control of ICANN Submitted to Brazil Meeting on the

Future of Internet Governance

SYRACUSE, N.Y., March 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Researchers

at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University

have released an innovative proposal to resolve the 15-year

controversy over the United States government's special relationship

to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The proposal, which involves removing root zone management functions

from ICANN and creating an independent and neutral private sector

consortium to take them over, will be presented at the Singapore ICANN

meeting March 21, and then formally submitted to the "NETMundial"

Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance

in SaoPaulo, Brazil, to be held April 23 and 24.

"We think this plan provides the roadmap for making ICANN into a truly

global and multistakeholder institution," said Dr. Milton Mueller,

professor at the iSchool and the proposal's co-author.

ICANN is a key institution in the global governance of the Internet.

It develops policy for the domain name system and also plays an

important role, with Verisign, Inc., in managing the root of the

Internet's name and address spaces. Both Verisign and ICANN fulfill

their respective operational and policy making roles under separate

contracts with the U.S. government. ICANN's contract with the U.S. is

known as the IANA Functions contract.

While the contracts are an understandable legacy of the Internet's

origins in the U.S. Defense Department and National Science Foundation

contracts, the U.S. has maintained control of ICANN long after it

promised to let go. This has invited other governments, including

authoritarian ones, to demand equal oversight authority over the DNS.

"Unless we take a consistent and principled approach to

non-governmental Internet governance," Dr. Mueller claimed, "it is

only a matter of time before other governments succeed in bringing the

coordination and management of the Internet under the control of

intergovernmental treaty organizations."

Dissatisfaction with the exclusive U.S. role reached a turning point

in October 2013, when the directors of all the major Internet

technical organizations (ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force,

the Internet Architecture Board, the World Wide Web Consortium, the

Internet Society, and all five of the regional Internet address

registries) issued a statement calling for "the globalization of ICANN

and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders,

including all governments, participate on an equal footing."

Mueller's proposal is an attempt to develop a blueprint for

globalization of the IANA functions. In summary, the plan would

-- Structurally separate the IANA functions from ICANN's policy

process, and ensure that the IANA functions are never used for

political or regulatory purposes

-- Integrate the DNS-related IANA functions with the Root Zone

Maintainer functions performed by Verisign, and put them into a new,

independent "DNS Authority" (DNSA)

-- Create a nonprofit controlled by a consortium of TLD registries and

root server operators to run the DNSA.

-- Complete the transition by September 2015, when the current IANA

contract expires

"It's important/essential not to conflate policy with the operation of

the root zone," said Dr. Brenden Kuerbis, the co-author of the study,

and a postdoctoral researcher at the iSchool. "It makes sense to put

operational authority in the hands of an entity comprised of the

registries and root server operators, as they are directly impacted by

operation of the root, and have strong incentives to ensure its

stability and security."

"Contractually binding the DNSA to ICANN ensures adherence to the

policy development process, and provides an important accountability

function," Kuerbis added. "It's an institutional design that is

consistent with the multistakeholder model and achievable in the near


A more detailed paper outlining the proposal is available on

the Internet Governance Project website. The proposal was also

formally submitted to the NETMundial (Brazil) meeting on March 2.

Housed at the iSchool, the Internet Governance Project is an alliance

of academics in the fields of global governance, Internet policy, and

information and communication technology. The Project both researches

and publishes analysis of global Internet policy issues. Its goals are


-- Inform and shape Internet public policy choices by providing

independent analysis and timely recommendations.

-- Identify and analyze new possibilities for improving Internet

governance institutions

-- Develop policy positions guided by the values of globalism,

democratic governance and individual rights.

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SOURCE School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University

-0- 03/04/2014

/CONTACT: J.D. Ross,, 315-443-3094


CO: School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University

ST: New York




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