ICANN To Function Independently From U.S. Government - Details of the New Agreement
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Chances are the news of the new agreement struck between ICANN and the U.S. government won’t be heard by the average Internet user who’s mostly concerned with checking out message boards, responding to e-mails, and downloading music, but according to Paul Levins, ICANN Vice President, the new agreement is a "huge moment not just for ICANN, but for the Internet. This really vital resource was being overseen by just one government," Levins said.
The new agreement, though changing a lot, has also kept one thing in place: the DOC's (Department of Commerce) contract with ICANN, which calls for the DOC to perform the functions of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) that is responsible for the global coordination of the DNS Root, IP addressing, and other Internet protocol resources. And one of the areas where the new agreement does change is in its approach to the review of ICANN, which will no longer be performed solely by the DOC.
The new agreement actually has a name; it’s the Affirmation of Commitments, and basically this is how it will work from now on: ICANN will receive a performance review every three years, which will be conducted by members of ICANN advisory committees, the DOC, and independent experts, among others. As mentioned, the DOC will continue remain involved in ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), but the new agreement characterizes ICANN as a global "private-sector led organization."
The U.S. government will have just one seat at the table in respect to ICANN’s three-year reviews. According to ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom, what this really means is that the organization is going global. "All the reviews and all the work done will be submitted for public comment to the world, but there's no separate or unique reporting to the United States government. All the reporting is to the world; that's the real change," Beckstrom said.
Coincidentally (or not), the new Affirmation of Commitments was announced Wednesday, September 30, which happened to be the same day that an eleven-year-old series of “memorandums of understanding” between ICANN and the Department of Commerce expired.
Overall, the U.S. administration's decision to strengthen ICANN's role in Internet governance will be beneficial to businesses across sectors and across the globe -- if effectively implemented. This new agreement between the U.S. and the non-profit organization also commits ICANN to a "multi-stakeholder, private sector led, bottom-up policy development model for DNS technical coordination." The organization must also "adhere to transparent and accountable budgeting processes, fact-based policy development, cross-community deliberations, and responsive consultation procedures that provide detailed explanations of the basis for decisions."
These new policies will require that ICANN publish annual reports that detail the organization's progress and provide a "thorough and reasoned explanation of decisions taken, the rationale thereof, and the sources of data and information" on which it relied.
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