U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) questions future of DNS management.
ICANN’s Joint Project Agreement (JPA) with the U.S. government ends in September, and already countries around the world are asking that control of the domain name system be pulled from the U.S. There are sure to be big battles ahead.
NTIA is seeking public comment (pdf) on ICANN and the termination of the JPA. In reality, ICANN would have to agree to a continuation of its agreement with the U.S. Government. Its senior staff have made every indication that they don’t plan to extend this and that it will go out on its own after September. The U.S. government, on the other hand, is questioning whether ICANN is even the ideal model for managing the DNS. It is questioning, ever-so-lightly, if ICANN should be scrapped in favor of an alternative.
Internet Commerce Association (ICA) provides some good analysis of the current situation on its web site:
Of course, the JPA is a contract and it takes two willing parties to enter into one. The NOI notes that top ICANN staff have repeatedly stated that the JPA will conclude this fall, which raises the possibility of a heads-on confrontation with international political ramifications in September should the U.S. conclude that ICANN is not ready to graduate and ICANN responds that it is unwilling to enter into a new JPA. The most intriguing questions posed by DOC may be the ones that hint it is willing to entertain the possibility of scrapping the ICANN experiment and instituting an entire new model of DNS governance.
Should ICANN be scrapped? I don’t think so. It needs to be reformed before it’s cut loose, but scrapping it altogether would create chaos. As ICA reminds us, “Better the devil you know than the one you
My best guess is that ICANN and the U.S. government will come to a face-saving agreement. It keeps ICANN intact, cuts some of the thread between the two, but still gives the U.S. arms-length control over DNS.