09 April 2014

Letter from US Senators to NTIA's Strickling about IANA Transition

On  April 2, 2014, U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and 33 of their Senate Republican colleagues sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), seeking clarification regarding the recent announcement that NTIA intends to relinquish responsibility of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions to the global multistakeholder community. The full letter can be found here, excerpt below --

" . . . .Because this issue is so important to the future of the Internet and for the protection of American values and interests, we request expeditious responses to the following questions and requests for information about the proposed IANA transition.
  • A 2000 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office stated that “it is unclear if the Department [of Commerce] has the requisite authority” to transfer control of the IANA functions to a private entity. Please provide us with the Administration’s legal views and analysis on whether the United States Government can transition the IANA functions to another entity without an Act of Congress. 
  • Please explain why it is in our national interest to transition the IANA functions to the “global multistakeholder community.” 
  • You have stated that NTIA believes “the timing is right to start the transition process.” Why does the Administration believe now is the appropriate time to begin the transition, and what was the specific circumstance or development that led the Administration to decide to begin the transition now?
  • What steps will NTIA take to ensure the process to develop a transition plan for the IANA functions is open and transparent?
  • Will NTIA actively participate in the global multistakeholder process to develop a transition plan for the IANA functions, or will the Administration leave the process entirely in the hands of ICANN?
  • You have stated that NTIA “will not accept a proposal that replaces NTIA’s role with a government-led or an inter-governmental solution,” but NTIA has been silent on how it will ensure the IANA functions do not end up being controlled, directly or indirectly, by a government or inter-governmental entity. What specific options are available to NTIA to prevent this from happening?
  • How can the Administration guarantee the multistakeholder organization that succeeds NTIA will not subsequently transfer the IANA functions to a government or intergovernmental organization in the future, or that such successor organization will not eventually fall under the undue influence of other governments?
  • NTIA asked ICANN to lead the transition process. However, ICANN has a potential self-interest in increasing its own autonomy and reducing its accountability to other entities. Some stakeholders have expressed concerns that ICANN may seek to control the IANA functions on its own, without oversight from anyone else. How did NTIA determine that ICANN is the appropriate entity to lead the transition process, and how will NTIA ensure that ICANN does not inappropriately control or influence the process for its own self-interest? 
  • Does NTIA believe ICANN currently is sufficiently transparent and accountable in its activities, or should ICANN adopt additional transparency and accountability requirements as part of the IANA transition? 
  • Is it realistic to expect that an acceptable transition plan can be developed before the IANA functions contract expires on September 30, 2015? Is there another example of a similar global stakeholder transition plan being developed and approved in just 18 months? 
  • How will NTIA ultimately decide whether a proposed transition plan for IANA, developed by global stakeholders, is acceptable? What factors will NTIA use to determine if such a proposal supports and enhances the multistakeholder model; maintains the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet Domain Name System; meets the needs and expectation of the global customers and partners of the IANA services; and maintains the openness of the Internet? 
  • Will NTIA also take into account American values and interests in evaluating a proposed transition plan? How? 
As this process moves forward, we will conduct careful oversight on behalf of the American people to ensure that American values, American interests, and the open Internet are protected. Your detailed responses to our questions and requests for information will aid in that oversight, and we thank you in advance for your personal attention to this matter."

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