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09|30|2009 12:56 pm EDT

US Government Releases Control Over ICANN in Affirmation of Commitments

by Adam Strong in Categories: ICANN / Policy

Effective October 1, internet governing body ICANN will no longer be under the control of the U.S. Government. The Affirmation of Commitments signed today by the US Government’s National Telecommunications Information Administration and ICANN commits to allowing ICANN remain a private not for profit organization.  It also declares ICANN is independent and is not controlled by any one entity. The commitment recognizes that ICANN is a multi-stakeholder model robust enough to review itself.  Previous agreements between the US Government and ICANN operated under a three year time period, but this new agreement is not limited in time, essentially completely releasing ICANN from direct U.S. oversight.  The  U.S. has commited to remain involved with ICANN’s mission through ongoing support of ICANN through the GAC (Government Advisory Committee).

ICANN was created in 1998 for the purpose of “coordination of the Internet’s unique identifiers by the private sector through a not-for-profit organization where policies were developed from the bottom up.”  A Memorandum of Understanding between ICANN and the US Government was created at that time and a Joint Partnership Agreement (JPA) between the two parties was renewed and revised over the last 11 years.  According to the ICANN website “the Affirmation of Commitments places beyond doubt that the ICANN model is best equipped to coordinate this vital resource and places reviews of ICANN’s performance in the hands of the community.”

The move was one that many predicted as the close ties between ICANN and the US Government had come under fire by some in the international community. All reports indicate that this news has been welcomed by many in the internet community.  Quotes from many in the community can be found on the ICANN website.  ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom was quoted by the BBC as saying “It’s a beautifully historic day.”  What the changes could mean specifically over time to the domain community as a whole is up in the air, but one could safely assume that the weight of US opinion on future endeavors by ICANN, such as the new gTLD launch, will have less of an impact than previously under the JPA.

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