Keep US in charge of ICANN oversight, say law makers

Several US lawmakers have called on their government to maintain oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

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Several US lawmakers and an executive with the world's largest domain-name registrar called on the US government to maintain oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) after a major agreement between two expires in September.

The US needs to maintain oversight of ICANN to push the organisation to become more transparent and accountable to registrars and Internet users, said Christine Jones, general counsel and corporate secretary for The Go Daddy Group, a huge registrar based in Arizona.

The not-for-profit ICANN was created in 1998 to oversee the Internet's DNS (domain name system).

Mechanisms ICANN has put in place to appeal its decisions "are all ICANN reviewing ICANN," Jones said Thursday, during a hearing before the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.

ICANN has pushed for more independence, and officials there have pushed to end the organisation's joint project agreement (JPA) with the US Department of Commerce when it expires Sept. 30.

Other countries have called for more international oversight of ICANN, and in May, Viviane Reding, the European commissioner for Internet-related issues, called for the creation of a group of 12 countries to oversee the organisation.

ICANN has taken several steps to become more transparent and accountable to its constituencies, including the ability to take ICANN decisions to an independent arbitrator, said Paul Twomey, ICANN's president and CEO. The organisation publishes transcripts of all its meetings, has an ombudsman on staff, and blogs about its actions, he said.

Even if the JPA expires, ICANN will have a continuing contract with the US government to run the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is responsible for the global coordination of the DNS Root, Internet Protocol addressing, and other IP resources, Twomey noted.

Most of the US government's oversight of ICANN comes through that contract, he said.

The US government and ICANN have long agreed that a private-sector organisation is the best place to manage the DNS, Twomey added.

"This is the time to have confidence to state, 'This model works,'" he said. "If the US does not have confidence in a private sector-led model, we should not expect other governments to have confidence in the model.