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Yesterday, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) announced that it is extending the contract between the Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to perform the Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA) functions.  The contract will be extended by one year from September 30, 2015 to September 30, 2016.

Briefly, the IANA functions relate to the Domain Name Server (DNS) system, which connects names and numbers.  Although this is sometimes described as a “clerical” function, it is critical to the continued seamless functioning of the Internet.

SIIA welcomed the March 14, 2014 NTIA announcement to transition the IANA functions to multistakeholder control.  At the same time, we strongly supported the Administration’s insistence that the conditions it articulated for the transfer to be met.  SIIA also considers the Congress’s oversight role to be important, which is why we support the proposed DOTCOM Act.  The bill requires the NTIA conditions to be met, as well as for a number of broad ICANN accountability reforms to be included in ICANN’s bylaws.

The IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) and the Cross Community Working Group (CCWG) have developed proposals which make substantial progress in addressing the NTIA conditions.   However, more time is clearly needed in order to review and perhaps further develop these proposals.   Currently, for instance, there are important discussions on the role of governments (the GAC) with respect to its relationship to the ICANN Board, as well as continued debate on the jurisdiction (California) under which ICANN operates.  These issues need to be resolved prior to the transition.

For all of these reasons, it was prudent for NTIA to give the multistakeholder community more time to create arrangements, which will be critical for global commerce in the coming years.  But by no means does this action indicate a lack of commitment to this transition.  The Internet is a critical resource that has developed into the wonderful infrastructure it is through a unique distributed governance arrangement best known as the multistakeholder model.  SIIA remains committed to that vision.

Carl Carl Schonander is Senior Vice President for Global Public Policy.