ISPs on Domain Name Hand-Off: Hold ICANN Accountable

Call for multistakeholder transparency

The Internet Governance Coalition, whose members include NCTA: The Internet & Television Association, studios and computer giants, praised the Oct. 1 hand-off of U.S. oversight of the domain name system (DNS) to a multistakeholder model but with a caveat.

In a statement Monday following the transition of the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) oversight, the coalition hailed the plan for including "strong accountability measures" and for a "bottom-up approach that embodies the very nature of the open internet we experience today."

The caveat was that there is "still much work that needs to be done to ensure the accountability and transparency of ICANN."

The contract of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), the Obama Administration's telecom advisory arm, to oversee the DNS, essentially the internet's address book, expired Sept. 30 under a long-planned transition in cooperation with ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a California-based multistakeholder nonprofit of which IANA is an arm.

That means the U.S. no longer has an oversight role over the database and technical parameters of top-level domains (.com, .net, .org).

ISPs have been generally supportive of the move, so long as the absence of U.S. oversight was not a vacuum filled by authoritarian regimes like China or Russia with an eye toward controlling the internet. That concern drove Republicans, including GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, to try unsuccessfully to block the transition. Some Democrats were initially concerned as well but appeared assuaged by the transition plans safeguards against potential abuses.

Other members of the coalition include 21st Century Fox, AT&T, Cisco, Comcast, Disney, Facebook, GoDaddy, Google, Juniper, Microsoft, Time Warner Cable, Telefonica and Verizon.