Examining the Multi-stakeholder Plan for Transitioning the Internet Assigned Number Authority
A critical change in Internet governance is imminent. It has been two years since the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce, announced that it intended to end its current contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and “transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multi-stakeholder community.”
Now the U.S. government is on the verge of giving up its historical role in overseeing changes in the Domain Name System (DNS), the policy apparatus and technological method that assigns names and numbers on the Internet. It is the system, for example, that ensures that “Heritage.org” refers to The Heritage Foundation and not some hypothetical ancestry and heritage group. If things proceed as proposed, the DNS system will be run independently under ICANN with oversight performed by a new international multi-stakeholder entity. As the Administration and Congress consider the transition, projected to be completed by the end of September 2016, they should proceed with caution.