ICANN Floats Plan To End U.S. Oversight of Internet

Members of the public have until September 8 to weigh on plans to transition key aspects of Internet oversight from U.S. control to a more international "multi-stakeholder" model. While it's a transition that's been planned since the Internet's early days, the actual process is raising some political concerns, especially among U.S. Republicans.

Currently, oversight of key functions of the Internet's domain name system (DNS) is the responsibility of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is part of the U.S. Commerce Department. The NTIA provides those services through a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a not-for-profit organization that was established by the NTIA in 1998.

Last week, the organization tasked with handling the transition from the NTIA to a "global multi-stakeholder community" published its proposal online and put out a call for public comments on the plan. The proposal outlines the governing structure and processes that the new body would use to oversee key Internet functions.

'A Big Undertaking'

Developed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority's (IANA) Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG), the proposal has incorporated input from a wide range of individuals and organizations. The group began working last year after the NTIA announced plans early last year to transition away from its role after its current contract with ICANN expired on September 30, 2015.

"It has been a big undertaking to develop a proposal that meets the criteria set forth by the NTIA," said Patrik Fältström, vice chair of the ICG. "The public's input is absolutely crucial to this process," said Mohamed El Bashir, who is also an ICG vice chair.

During the public comment period, the ICG will hold two briefing webinars on the transition plan. The webinars will be open to the public and are scheduled for August 6 and August 7....

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