ICANN moves towards independence

Written by Brett Thomas

October 3, 2006 // 2:52 p.m.

Tags: #department-of-commerce #eu #european-union #icann

There has been lots of controversy over previous months about the issue of internet control. Sitting at the heart of that storm was whether or not the United States should have influence over the gatekeeper of names and numbers, ICANN - a relationship that the EU and others had strong issues with. Well, the decision has finally been made - at the very end of last week, ICANN signed a three-year extension with the US Department of Commerce.

So why is the EU celebrating?

Well, the deal was not exactly what one would consider favourable to the USDOC. The extension starts with two simple but dramatic changes - first, ICANN is no longer required to file reports with the USDOC on its semi-annual basis. Second, the USDOC is also not allowed to attempt any undue influence, and its officials are no longer given any authority over ICANN.

Even better, the agreement sets into stone a proposal discussed previously - ICANN will be a totally private enterprise by 2009. An excerpt from the new agreement (written from the perspective of the USDOC) says:

"The Department reaffirms its policy goal of transitioning the technical coordination of the DNS to the private sector, in a manner that promotes stability and security, competition, bottom-up coordination, and representation."

European Commission spokesperson Martin Selmayr was pleased with the news. "We welcome that ICANN will be set free in a process over the next three years," he said. However, he did make sure to say that the EU would be watching that this process does happen, and that the transition is fair to all parties.

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