A lot of Internet Governance isn’t “sexy” or “exciting”. A lot of it is meetings, conference calls and emails discussing quite abstract concepts.

However, from time to time, there are big historic events that capture the world’s attention.

Last Friday evening the US government made one such announcement.

Up until now the US government has held a special position with respect to some of the core technical functions of the Internet.

However the Internet is global, so it was always expected that at some point there would be a transition away from this US stewardship.

What will happen next?

Over the next few months ICANN and others will engage with the global internet community to help co-ordinate this transition. As the NTIA announcement makes clear, the transition has to follow a number of core principles:

  • Support and enhance the multistakeholder model;
  • Maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet DNS;
  • Meet the needs and expectation of the global customers and partners of the IANA services; and,
  • Maintain the openness of the Internet

Put more simply, the Internet’s security and stability is key and its governance and evolution belongs to everyone. It should not be controlled solely by government or big business. The multistakeholder model, which I firmly believe in, is the only sane way to protect the Internet now and in the future.

Next week I’ll be heading to Singapore to participate in the 49th ICANN public meeting. The future of how all this plays out is going to be taking centre stage at that meeting.

Here’s our release from earlier today:

Ireland’s leading domain registrar and hosting company is pleased to welcome massive change to the Internet’s infrastructure that will signify the closure of the United States control over ICANN and the IANA function.

During a press conference that took place at 11 p.m. UTC on March 14, 2014 ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade and Chairman of the ICANN board Steve Crocker Announced that The United States Government, which currently oversees the stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), and is the appointing body for The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), would transfer its responsibilities to the global multistakeholder community.

For those who are unfamiliar with these entities, IANA administers the root zone and coordinates the DNS as well as many other functions. ICANN oversees the general function of the Internet at large. On a practical level, The IANA functions are currently administered by ICANN. This will not change as ICANN has been providing the IANA service for sixteen years without financial assistance from the US Govt.

ICANN anticipates that the role will be taken over not by another single government entity, but by a global multistakeholder community. The U.S. government is asking ICANN to lead a process for a global multistakeholder community dialogue about how and what this transition will entail.

Blacknight CEO Michele Neylon “This is an incredibly historic and important day for Internet governance. As a member of the International governance and infrastructure communities I applaud this move away from a single government to a regulating body that represents the interests of the global community. However, the real challenge now lies ahead in identifying and implementing a strong, diverse community to oversee these crucial organizations.”

According to ICANN’s website “The transition from the U.S. government has been envisioned since 1997 as reflected in “Framework for Global Electronic Commerce” and the subsequent “Statement of Policy” in 1998. The US government always envisioned its role as transitional and this is the next step in the concept of globalization of the IANA Functions that was called for and begun sixteen years ago.” The U.S. contract expires in 2015.

The multistakeholder-designed process that is consensus-driven, participatory, open, and transparent will launch at the ICANN 49 Meeting in Singapore in March 2014. Subsequent to this meeting, input from the community discussions will be compiled and put out for public comment and community feedback. The feedback from the community will inform the process going forward.

ICANN has stated that the transition away from the U.S. government can be made as early as September 2015. This announcement does not affect Internet users or how the Internet functions.


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