IANA oversees the global allocation of IP addresses and manages the root zone of the domain name system (DNS), among other key functions through which the Internet operates. Through a contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce (of which NTIA is a part), ICANN manages these IANA functions. This contract, however, will expire in September. During this public comment period, NTIA sought input on various aspects of the IANA contract in order to help determine whether it should renew the agreement with ICANN.
In its response, ICANN not only affirmed that it should continue to singularly perform all the IANA functions, but also asserted that the Department of Commerce's (DoC) role should be significantly reduced. ICANN believes that it should ultimately have the authority to perform all the IANA functions in conjunction with relevant technical bodies with no outside governmental oversight – in other words, with no contractual connection to the DoC.
Since 1998, the U.S. Government has held the position that the IANA functions should eventually transition to the private sector. However, it also believes that the DNS should be managed in the best interest of the entire Internet community. In its current state, ICANN is not capable of fulfilling that requirement. "Awarding ICANN the IANA contract yet again would be the simplest and most convenient option for the U.S. government, but it is not the best decision for the Internet as a whole," stated CADNA President Josh Bourne. "Until ICANN is able to improve its internal policy-making structure in order to ensure that its funding sources no longer have a monopolistic influence over the policy it creates, the IANA contract should be withheld."
CADNA supports the private sector-led model of Internet governance, and acknowledges that ICANN – as it was originally envisioned – could be the best operator of the IANA functions. Unfortunately, the integrity of the ICANN model has been seriously damaged. Its current policy development process is dominated by the commercial domain name industry, and does not accurately represent the interests of the broader Internet user population. Until ICANN undergoes a thorough revision of its organizational structure and can stand as an unbiased policy-maker, CADNA strongly urges the NTIA to reconsider which organization should administer the IANA functions.
CADNA does not advocate unilateral U.S. control over the IANA functions or ICANN, but is in agreement with the U.S. Government that DNS management should benefit the entire Internet community. Given the myriad evidence that ICANN does not operate in the global interest, coupled with the fact that ICANN's activities are directly funded by the volume of domain name registration activity, CADNA takes serious issue with the assertions ICANN has made in its comments. A copy of CADNA's comments in response to the NTIA's Request for Comments regarding the IANA functions is available here.
The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the systemic domain name abuses that plague the Internet today. For more information, please visit www.cadna.org.