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Online address gatekeeper sends plan to break from US

Friday, March 11, 2016 - 07:13

[SAN FRANCISCO] The gatekeeper of Internet addresses on Thursday approved a plan to break from US oversight, shifting those symbolic functions to the broader global online community.

The plan, which now heads to the US government for approval, aims to maintain Internet governance under a "multi-stakeholder" model which avoids control of the online ecosystem by any single governmental body.

The proposal crafted over the course of two years with input from businesses, academia, governments and others was endorsed at a board meeting in Morocco of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

"The mood here is a mixture of exultation and exhaustion," ICANN board chairman Stephen Crocker told AFP on the eve of the vote.

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Work began on the transition plan in March of 2014, and it will be sent to the US government where it will be the focus of an internal review process expected to last about three months.

The plan will not affect how users interact online, but will turn over the technical supervision of the online address system to ICANN itself, with a system of checks and balances so no single entity can exert control over the Internet, according to officials involved in the process.

The online address system managed by ICANN is currently overseen by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the US Department of Commerce.

Officials say the supervision is symbolic and dates back to the creation of the Internet. Yet ICANN officials maintain the new governance model will instill confidence around the world in the Internet as an independent system without governmental control.

"This plan enjoys the broadest possible support from this very diverse community and I'm confident it will meet NTIA's criteria," said Thomas Rickert of the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability.

If the US government approves the plan, then a contract between ICANN and the US government will expire on September 30 as is planned.

AFP

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