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Thursday, October 01, 2009
 US Move to More Independent, International Internet Governance
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Message Text: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body primarily responsible for managing internet domain names, will become more open and accountable to billions of internet users worldwide.

For internet traffic to reach its destination, domain names and addresses are essential. The organisation responsible for the definition of policies for the global coordination of the Domain Name System (DNS) is ICANN, a private sector, non-profit US corporation based in California. Since its creation in 1998, ICANN has operated under a series of Memoranda of Understanding with the US government which specified its objectives regarding policy making for the DNS.

As of 30 September, ICANN, the US-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, will no longer be subject to the unilateral review by the US Department of Commerce, but by independent review panels appointed by ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and ICANN itself with the involvement of governments around the world.

As it became know today, the "Joint Project Agreement" in the US, which at present foresees a unilateral overview of ICANN decision by the US Department of Commerce, will not be extended as of 30 September 2009. It will be replaced by a joint "affirmation of commitments" of the US Government and of ICANN, which represents an important reform of the present governance arrangements. The most important reforms of ICANN include:

- More independence from regular periodic reviews by a single government. Decisions taken by ICANN affect internet users world wide and therefore it is important to reflect all those interests.

- External accountability involving independent review panels appointed jointly by the GAC and by ICANN. The GAC is open to governments and public authorities from around the world and advises the ICANN Board on public policy aspects of ICANN's activities. These review panels will periodically evaluate ICANN's performance in relation to their public commitments.

Viviane Reding, the EU's Commissioner for Information Society and Media, today welcomed the news.

"I welcome the US administration's decision to adapt ICANN's key role in internet governance to the reality of the 21st century and of a globalised world," said Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "Internet users worldwide can now anticipate that ICANN's decisions on domain names and addresses will be more independent and more accountable, taking into account everyone's interests. External review panels will periodically evaluate ICANN's performance. If effectively and transparently implemented, this reform can find broad acceptance among civil society, businesses and governments alike."

Since 2005, the European Commission has repeatedly called for reform of the governance of the internet's key global resources. This is necessary to ensure important public policy objectives such as freedom of expression and facilitating stable business transactions online.
 
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