US gives up its unilateral supervision powers over ICANN

By EDRi · October 7, 2009

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Deutsch: [USA geben ihre unilaterale Aufsichtsbefugnisse über ICANN auf |]

In a movement welcomed by the European Commission, the US have announced
they would become more open in Internet governance and give up their
dominant position in the supervision of the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body created in 1998, responsible
with the global management of the internet domain names and addresses.

A recent statement co-signed by US Communication and Information
Administration and ICANN stated the “commitment to a multi-stakeholder,
private sector-led, bottom-up policy development model for the domain name
and addressing system (DNS)” and that “A private coordinating process, the
outcomes of which reflect the public interest, is best able to flexibly meet
the changing needs of the Internet and of Internet users.” According to
Massimiliano Minisci from ICANN this actually means that “the political
responsibility of the Internet moves from the US to the global community”
which includes governments, civil society, companies and experts from all
over the world.

Since 2005, the US have been largely criticised for their dominant position
in ICANN and strongly pressured by the European Commission to be more open
and loose its tight grips on Internet governance. In a speech made on 4 May
2009, Commissioner Viviane Reding made an appeal to president Obama to
reform the US position in Internet governance.

“I trust that President Obama will have the courage, the wisdom and the
respect for the global nature of the Internet to pave the way in September
for a new, more accountable, more transparent, more democratic and more
multilateral form of Internet governance,” said Reding at that time when she
proposed a large reform of the Internet governance including “an independent
judicial body” and “a multilateral forum for governments to discuss policy
and security issues” related to the Internet. She proposed the forum to be
structured as a G12, with two representatives from Europe, North America,
South America, Africa and Asia, one from Oceania, and the chairman of ICANN
as a non-voting member.

Starting with 30 September, the “Joint Project Agreement” in the US,
presently ensuring a unilateral supervision of ICANN’s decision by the US
Department of Commerce will be replaced by a joint “affirmation of
commitments” of the US Government and of ICANN.

Reding expressed her satisfaction for the US’s present decision considering
that ICANN’s decisions related to domain names and addresses can now be
“more independent and more accountable, taking into account everyone’s
interests”. She stated that ICANN’s performances would be periodically
evaluated by external review panels. The panels will be appointed jointly by
ICANN and ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee which is open to
governments and public authorities from all around the world and advises the
ICANN Board on public policy aspects.

The Swedish EU Presidency considers the US announcement as “an important
moment in the process towards the increased internationalisation of ICANN’s
coordination and management of the Internet DNS”.

EU hails US move to open up Internet governance (2.10.2009)

European Commission welcomes US move to more independent, accountable,
international internet governance (30.09.2009)

Reding attacks US rule over Internet governance (6.05.2009)