The National Telecommunications & Information Administration says it hopes to have a decision by June on whether or not it approves of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) plan to transition stewardship of the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), which oversees domain naming conventions, from the U.S. to a multistakeholder model.
NTIA currently oversees IANA under a contract that was to have expired Sept. 30, 2015 but was extended a year—with an option to extend it three more years—because the plan was not yet ready. In 2014, NTIA concluded that no single nation, including the U.S., should be overseeing domain names for the Internet and set the transition in motion.
In a blog post after the plan was submitted to NTIA this week, NTIA head Lawrence Strickling said the review process had begun and that "hopefully within 90 days" it would determine whether it meets the criteria NTIA announced.
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, but particularly Republicans, are concerned with the handoff and will be vetting NTIA's vetting process.
But Strickling has long pledged that NTIA would not turn over the Internet naming function to a government-led or controlled model, which is the main concern of critics of the hand-off.
Strickling called the plan the largest multistakeholder process every conducted, saying: "Stakeholders spent more than 26,000 working hours on the proposal, exchanged more than 33,000 messages on mailing lists, and held more than 600 meetings and calls."
Strickling says the plan must:
•"Support and enhance the multistakeholder model of Internet governance, in that it should be developed by the multistakeholder community and have broad community support. More specifically, we will not accept a transition proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or intergovernmental organization solution.
• "[M]aintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the domain name system.
• "[M]eet the needs and expectations of the global customers and partners of the IANA services, and
• "[M]aintain the openness of the Internet."