WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, chairman of the Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force, and Sen. Roy Blunt, member of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced a resolution Tuesday to increase awareness of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s announced intention to transition its stewardship role over the Internet’s domain name system to the global community.
If the United States is going to transition the stewardship of the domain name system to the global Internet community, we must ensure that stakeholders commit to abide by the strictest standards of transparency and accountability in internet governance. The Internet must be kept open and free from undue influence by any one government or organization. This resolution will raise awareness and encourage the public to engage in the conversation about this incredibly important issue.
The rapid expansion of the Internet continues to drive economic growth and freedom of expression around the world. The United States plays a pivotal role in this development, including through our commitment to the bottom-up approach to Internet governance. The United States will not accept a proposal that violates our fundamental principles of Internet governance or replaces NTIA’s role with that of another government-led or inter-governmental organization.
The National Telecommunications and Information Association, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, holds a stewardship role over the domain name system by virtue of a contractual relationship with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, a nonprofit incorporated in 1998 to manage and oversee some of the Internet’s technical underpinnings.
Specifically, the Association has contracted out the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions to ICANN. These functions include the right and responsibility to assign domain names. The Association’s contract with ICANN is set to expire September 30. While the Association has not set a deadline for the ICANN functions stewardship transition to the global Internet community, it retains the option to extend the current contract – for up to four years – if specific conditions are not met.
On Feb. 8-12, ICANN will hold its 52nd public meeting in Singapore to continue discussions about the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority stewardship transition. The Hatch-Blunt resolution designates the week of February 8 as “Internet Governance Awareness Week.” In particular, the resolution will focus on three specific principles to be considered during the week:
- Increasing public awareness regarding the March 14, 2014, announcement by National Telecommunications and Information Association declaring its intention to transition its stewardship role to the global, multistakeholder community
- Encouraging public education about the implications of the proposed transition
- Calling the attention of the participants at ICANN’s next global meeting in Singapore to the importance of designing a transition proposal for the stewardship of key Internet functions in conjunction with accountability and governance reforms of ICANN
Submitted by the Offices of Sen. Orrin Hatch