Joint Statement: We welcome NTIA announcement on transition of key internet domain name functions

ARTICLE 19 and other members of the Best Bits coalition welcome the announcement made by the United States Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of its ‘intent to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multi-stakeholder community.’

NTIA’s responsibility under current agreements means it has served as the “historic steward” of the DNS (Internet domain name system). The fact that a single government currently plays this role, even if it has not been a particularly “hands-on” role, has been cause for concern and debate among governments and other stakeholders for more than a decade.

We commend the NTIA for committing to the transition to a multi-stakeholder process that needs full involvement of civil society, governments, business and the Internet technical community (to mention just some of the current stakeholders affected by internet decision making) and for requiring that the resulting transition plan maintains the openness of the Internet.

This is however not trivial, as mechanisms for democratising Internet governance, and ensuring really effective and inclusive participation of all who are affected by Internet policy making and standard setting both developing and developed countries are still evolving. A transition away from US government oversight does not in itself guarantee inclusion, transparency and accountability or protection of the public interest in the management of DNS and the root zone. Nevertheless, this is a very constructive step, definitely in the right direction, and a unique opportunity to make progress in the evolution of the Internet governance ecosystem. This is particularly important for stakeholders from developing countries.

We recommend that ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), to which the NTIA is entrusting the development of the transition plan, look beyond its own internal multi-stakeholder processes in bringing together the larger community for the necessary consultations on how this transition should be undertaken. We also recommend that ICANN consider the submissions about how this transition can take place that were made to the upcoming NetMundial: Global Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance ‒ ‒ to be held in Brazil in late April 2014.

Read our full NETmundial submission here



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