The global Internet community is abuzz these days. On 14th September 2016, a hearing was held in the US Senate, where Senator Ted Cruz, perhaps with his sights on 2020, defended the view that the transfer ("transition") of oversight of the IANA Functions would be the end of "Internet freedom". Among the witnesses summoned for the occasion, Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Administrator of NTIA, Becky Burr and others defended the view that "transition of oversight" would benefit the global Internet, but would also be in the interests of the United States.
That hearing, and many other events in this pre-election period in the USA, show to what extent the Internet has now been thrown into the ring as a highly politicized topic.
On 12 September 2016, a group of individuals involved in Internet matters sent a letter to the President of the United States of America about the expiry of the current IANA Functions contract, and the proposed transition of oversight of those IANA Functions.
Similar letters were sent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the US Senate.
The signatories are requesting that the Administration implement the proposed transition of oversight, and that the US Congress not impede the termination of the current IANA Functions contract, due to expire on October 1st, 2016.
At the end of the letter it is made clear that "Views expressed in this letter are those of the signatories, and do not purport to represent the positions of entities with which they may be associated."
Here is the full text of one of the letter to President Obama:
"Dear Mr. President:
As the first truly universal infrastructure in human history, the Internet has allowed huge progress to be achieved in business, legislation, science, public health, agriculture, industry, education and communications, at the same time as it has facilitated the daily lives of ordinary citizens all over the world.
Because of the seminal contribution of the United States of America in creating the Internet and carrying forward so many of its subsequent developments, your country has earned the deep and lasting gratitude of billions of people. In fact, today's younger generations in so many countries cannot even imagine life without the benefits of ubiquitous connectivity, quick and free access to knowledge, as well as the facilitation of social intercourse.
As individuals deeply engaged in, and committed to improving the integrity, stability and uses of the Internet, we believe that now is an appropriate time to confirm the multi-stakeholder model of the Internet, in a way that would benefit both the United States and the rest of the world. In this respect, we note that the United States have consistently considered that the further development of the Internet would best be served by a global multi-stakeholder model:
1. At the inception of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in September 1998, the U.S. Government and Internet stakeholders envisioned that the U.S. oversight of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions ("IANA functions") would be temporary. Also in 1998, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a Statement of Policy that the U.S. Government “is committed to a transition that will allow the private sector to take leadership for DNS (Domain Name System) management."
2. In December 2012, the House of Representatives and the Senate jointly stated: "It is the sense of Congress that the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce, should continue working to implement the position of the United States on Internet governance that clearly articulates the consistent and unequivocal policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control and preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet today." (H.Con.Res.127; S.Con.Res.50).
3. In March 2014, the National Telecommunication and Information Agency (NTIA) announced its intention to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community. As the first step, NTIA asked ICANN to convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the current oversight role played by NTIA in the coordination of the Internet’s domain name system, and set out four criteria for such a transition to merit consideration. As requested, ICANN convened the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) which started work in December 2014.
4. In March 2016 the ICG, with the input of the Internet community, submitted its Proposal to NTIA. The NTIA certified that the Proposal met the four criteria (June 2016), approved it (August 2016), and announced its intention to let the IANA Functions contract expire on October 1st, 2016.
It is our belief and indeed our conviction that the transition of oversight of the IANA Functions, from an agency of the United States Government to a multi-stakeholder system equipped with detailed checks and balances, will safeguard the security, openness and efficiency of the Internet, while helping to meet some of the challenges facing humanity and the world in which we live.
In bringing this to your esteemed attention, we are inspired by the fact that the foundation of the United States of America was, in itself, a major innovation of its time: it set out a model of governement predicated on principles, a judiciary unswerved by political patisanship, and en economic model in which wealth and success would be earned by initiative and enterprise rather than by inheritance alone. Implementing those lofty principles required open information, as well as the awareness and growing participation of citizens. For the Internet today, the challenges are not very different.
It is our sincere hope that the Administration will now implement, and that the Congress of the United States of America will not impede the transition of oversight of the IANA Functions.
We are addressing similar letters to the Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives, and to the Honorable President pro tempore of the Senate.
On behalf of the signatories listed below:
Jean-Jacques Subrenat (Ambassador, ret.)
The Hon. Carl Bildt (Sweden)
Chair, Global Commission on Internet Governance; former Prime Minister & Foreign Minister
Dr. Vinton G. Cerf (United States)
former Chair of the Board of ICANN, Internet Pioneer
Mr. John Danilovich (United States)
Ambassador (ret.); Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce
Ms. Avri Doria (United States)
Principal Researcher, Technicalities
Mr. Roberto Gaetano (Italy)
Chair, the Public Interest Registry
Prof. Dr. MURAI Jun 村井 純 (Japan)
Dean & Professor, Environment and Information Studies, Keio University
Founder of Junet & WideProject
Dr. Nii Narku Quaynor (Ghana)
Chairman, Ghana Dot Com Ltd.; founding Chairman of AfriNIC
Ms. Njeri Rionge (Kenya)
Founder & CEO, Ignite Consult. & Investment; co-founder & Director, Wananchi Online Ltd.
The Hon. Ms. Marietje Schaake (Netherlands)
Founder, Intergroup on the Digital Agenda for Europe; Member of the European Parliament
Mr. Jean-Jacques Subrenat (France)
Ambassador (ret.); Former member, ICANN Board; Member of the ICG (2014~)
Dr. Prof. XUE Hong 薛虹 (China)
Founding Director, Institute for Internet Policy & Law, Beijing Normal Univ. 北京师范大学
Dr. Prof. YOKOZAWA Makoto 横澤 誠 (Japan)
Professor, Kyoto University; Vice Chair of the Internet Economy WG, Keidanren
(Views expressed in this letter are those of the signatories, and do not purport to represent the positions of entities with which they may be associated.)
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