US surrender of Internet governance role leads to new turbulence and risks
During my tenure as CEO of ICANN, I signed both the 2009 Affirmation of Commitments and the 2012 IANA contract that governs changes to the global Internet’s root zone – the authoritative database of top-level Internet domain names and addresses. These are the definitive agreements that codify the relationship between the U.S. government and ICANN.
Last Friday the U.S. government effectively surrendered its historic authority over the Internet with its surprise announcement of its intention to pass this responsibility to the global multistakeholder community.
From its inception, ICANN was designed for this transition. That it is finally taking place is a hallmark of the good work of thousands of people involved in ICANN, its Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the broader global Internet community.
As a staunch advocate of a free, open, unified Internet governed by the global community, I strongly support this transition. The U.S. should live up to its 1998 commitment to end its special role.
So why did the U.S. government do this now? Because they face the serious risk of losing even more at the upcoming NETmundial conference on Internet governance in Brazil. This event could potentially lead to greater United Nations control over the Internet and open the door to increased influence by countries opposed to a free and open Internet.
With the suddenness of this announcement we are entering a new, risky and chaotic process without a clear plan, and nothing less than the future of the Internet is at stake.
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