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ICANN 53: Another Milestone in the IANA Stewardship Transition Process

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The IANA stewardship transition process reached an important milestone during the recent ICANN 53 meeting (21-25 June in Buenos Aires, Argentina), with all three of the IANA operational communities now having submitted their responses to the Request For Proposals issued last year by the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG).

Both the numbers community and the protocol parameters community submitted their responses in January 2015, in line with ICG's original timeline. Since that time, the RIRs and their communities have been working on elements included in the response developed by the Consolidated RIR IANA Stewardship Proposal (CRISP) team, including a draft Service Level Agreement (SLA) for provision of the IANA numbering services. In addition to the SLA, the NRO Executive Council issued a draft charter for the community-based IANA Review Committee on 22 June. Comments are sought from the community through until 6 July.

The naming community, coordinated via the Cross-Community Working Group on IANA Stewardship (CWG-Stewardship), went into this ICANN meeting with a final draft of their response requiring sign-off from each of the CWG-Stewardship “Chartering Organizations”, namely the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO), the Generic Names Supporting Organization (gNSO), the Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC), the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and the Government Advisory Committee (GAC). On 25 June, the final day of the meeting, all Chartering Organizations were able to confirm their sign-off on the draft response.

The ICG will now begin working to consolidate the three community responses into a single proposal on future IANA stewardship, which will then be submitted to the NTIA, the U.S. Government agency currently overseeing the IANA functions.

Compatibility Across the Three Communities

While the three communities' responses are regarded as broadly compatible, there were discussions throughout the week on remaining points of inconsistency, particularly regarding arrangements for IANA-related intellectual properties including the IANA trademark and the iana.org domain. The responses from the names and protocol parameters communities proposed that these properties reside with an independent third-party such as the IETF Trust, while the CWG-Stewardship suggested that such properties reside with the IANA functions operator. Co-Chair Jonathan Robinson noted in the CWG-Stewardship engagement session on Monday afternoon that,

“The [CWG-Stewardship] proposal is not unequivocal by any means, in fact it technically doesn't assert anything with regard to the trademark and we need to do some work to reconcile therefore with the other two communities' proposals.”

He also noted that the CWG-Stewardship's proposed Post-Transition IANA (PTI) arrangement is not expected to prevent the Regional Internet Registries from signing a Service Level Agreement for provision of IANA numbering services with ICANN, as the CRISP team has proposed.

Some Input From the Current Overseer

Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications & Information and NTIA Administrator, spoke to a packed room on Sunday evening at the beginning of the ICANN meeting. In his speech he particularly emphasised the need for all parties in the development process to remain focused on meeting the requirements laid out by the NTIA in their initial announcement regarding the transition. These include stipulations that the proposal:

  • Support and enhance the multistakeholder model;
  • Maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet DNS;
  • Meet the needs and expectation of the global customers and partners of the IANA services; and,
  • Maintain the openness of the Internet.

The NTIA's initial announcement also included a fifth requirement, that the final proposal not give stewardship of the IANA functions to a government or inter-governmental organisation of any kind.

The importance of this advice was highlighted as the week drew to a close, with the U.S. Congress passing a bill that will require a period of 30 “legislative days” following NTIA's approval of any proposal, during which Congress will consider whether those conditions have been met.

This will also affect the timeline for submission, approval and implementation of the proposal. In its meetings on the final day of the meeting, the ICG produced a tentative timeline that aims to have ICG submit the proposal to the NTIA around the ICANN 54 meeting, taking place in Dublin in October 2015.

Developments in the ICG

In the ICG meetings in the days prior to the ICANN meeting, Paul Wilson, APNIC Director General and one of two NRO representatives on the ICG, raised the possibility of a “staged transition” within the group and it was discussed at some length. Under such a plan, the ICG would submit a single proposal for IANA stewardship, but would allow for the possibility that the various IANA functions be removed from the NTIA agreement at different times, depending on variables such as their dependence on implementation of changes to ICANN's accountability mechanisms.

ICANN Accountability

Such dependencies were very much at the centre of discussions in the Cross-Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability). Following a meeting on the Friday ahead of the ICANN event, CCWG-Accountability members abandoned its proposal to make ICANN a non-profit members-based organisation and discussed alternative models that would enable the community to exercise the proposed powers, including an "Empowered SO/AC Designators model”. At the same time, questions about which elements should be in place prior to transition of the IANA functions stewardship (known as “Work Stream 1”) sparked debate. The current NRO position, emphasising the importance of allowing the transition process to proceed without undue delay, was posted to the CCWG-Accountability mailing list on the final day of the ICANN.

Next Meeting

The next ICANN meeting will be held in Dublin, Ireland, from 18-22 October 2015.