For the past two years ICANN and the broader internet community have been working towards one goal: removing the special relationship the US government has with the IANA functions.
It’s an odd beast, but the IANA, like so much of the internet’s “plumbing” is essential, yet not that well known or understood by outsiders.
The internet was never designed to do what it does today. Nobody could have imagined 40 years ago that so much of our daily lives would be impacted by it. But technology related to the internet has helped us all. It’s helped businesses of all shapes and sizes compete in a global market. It’s helped people to connect with others. It’s given a voice to communities that would otherwise be silent.
With the internet being truly global the very idea that a single government, the US one, could have a “special relationship” with key internet resources, such as those managed by IANA, became increasingly abhorrent. But no sane person would have wanted to replace the US’ “light touch” with the heavy-handed approach that some political regimes would love to bring to bear on the ‘net. And therein lay the challenge.
How do you transition the IANA stewardship function away from the US government’s commerce department to the global internet community, without leaving it open to capture by other governments?
That has been the challenge that ICANN (the corporation), the ICANN Community, governments and the wider internet communities have been struggling with over the past two years. Moving IANA somewhere wasn’t going to work unless that somewhere was accountable and not subject to capture.
After thousands of hours of work, hundreds of meetings, many sleepless nights and countless email exchanges this week the final steps in the historical transition of the IANA functions away from the US government to the global internet community were agreed. This afternoon in Marrakech on the closing day of ICANN 55 the Board of ICANN sent the transition plan to the US government.
This isn’t the final chapter and the road to the transition will still be bumpy, but this week’s decision is historic and welcome.
Now to see if the US government can get it over the line!