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NTIA says ICANN “does not meet the requirements” for IANA renewal

Kevin Murphy, March 10, 2012, 15:21:51 (UTC), Domain Policy

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has dealt a stunning blow to ICANN in its bid to carry on running the internet’s critical IANA functions.
The NTIA said this hour that it has canceled the RFP for the new IANA contract “because we received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community”
NTIA thinks that ICANN’s bid was unsatisfactory, in other words.
The NTIA said:

Based on the input received from stakeholders around the world, NTIA added new requirements to the IANA functions’ statement of work, including the need for structural separation of policymaking from implementation, a robust companywide conflict of interest policy, provisions reflecting heightened respect for local country laws, and a series of consultation and reporting requirements to increase transparency and accountability to the international community.
The government may cancel any solicitation that does not meet the requirements. Accordingly, we are cancelling this RFP because we received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community. The Department intends to reissue the RFP at a future date to be determined (TBD) so that the requirements of the global internet community can be served.

However, it has extended ICANN’s current IANA contract until September 30, 2012.
This means ICANN still has its IANA powers over the DNS root zone, at least for another six months.
While the NTIA has not yet revealed where ICANN’s bid for the contract fell short, it is known that the NTIA and ICANN’s senior management did not exactly see eye to eye on certain issues.
One of the key sticking points is the NTIA’s demand that the IANA contractor – ICANN – must document that all new gTLD delegations are in “the global public interest”.
This demand is a way to prevent another controversy such as the approval of .xxx a year ago, which the Governmental Advisory Committee objected to on the grounds that it was not the “the global public interest”.
Coupled with newly strengthened Applicant Guidebook powers for the GAC to object to new gTLD application, the IANA language could be described as “if the GAC objects, you must reject”.
If the GAC were to declare .gay or .catholic “not in the global public interest”, it would be pretty tough for ICANN to prove otherwise.
But ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom has previously stated that he believed such rules imposed by the US government would undermine the multistakeholder process.
He told the NTIA last June that the draft IANA contract language stood to “rewrite” ICANN’s own process when it came to approving new gTLDs.

The IANA functions contract should not be used to rewrite the policy and implementation process adopted through the bottom-up decision-making process. Not only would this undermine the very principle of the multi-stakeholder model, it would be inconsistent with the objective of more clearly distinguishing policy development from operational implementation by the IANA functions operator.

Since then, language requiring ICANN to prove “consensus” on new gTLD delegations was removed, but language requiring it to demonstrate the “global public interest” remains.
The game is bigger than petty squabbling about new gTLDs, however.
The US government is worried about International Telecommunications Union treaty talks later this year, which many countries want to use to push for government-led internet governance.
A strong GAC, backed by an enforceable IANA contract, is one way to field concerns that ICANN is not responsive enough to government interests.
It’s tempting to view the deferral of the IANA renewal as an attempt to wait out Beckstrom’s tenure as CEO – he’s set to leave at the end of June – and deal with a more compliant replacement instead.

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Comments (18)

  1. Keven says:

    The “read about it here” link at the very bottom goes back to this page…?

  2. Paul Keating says:

    This is an unfortunate development. I believe this is a small part of a large game of governments attempting to re-assert political power over the Internet. They do not have that power currently – as measured from the top down – and their attempts from the bottom up or laterally (seizures, etc) have failed on the whole.
    I really feel in my soul that this is a step towards the elimination of ICANN and moving control of the Internet to the UN or most likely WIPO or a similar body over which the “developed countries” feel they can exert control.
    ICANN, of course, has done itself no favors in the process and they seem to have alienated many and not really assumed a position as leadership. Their “hands-off” policies (which are generally to be applauded) stem from the nature of the organization – they are ostensibly governed from the bottom up. However, their major failure IMO is that they have allowed the bellweather of “consensus” to become muddled. Consensus drives decisions, but once made ICANN must then take the lead and implement those decisions with authority.
    The UDRP is a prime example of ICANN’s failures. They implemented the process allowing what amounts in many countries to be a binding arbitration system and then did nothing to supervise the process. There is no ADR accreditation, no criteria for panelists, no continuing education and no review of obviously erroneous decisions.
    And, for those wondering, the “binding” nature of the UDRP exists because outside of the US, there are few jurisdictions which provide losing respondents with an actual “cause of action” (read legal basis) to challenge the decision. The most recent decision in the UK regarding is sufficient to prove the point.
    So, in their hour of need, they (a) most likely do not realize their own future demise, and (b) if they did, they have few friends to stand in their corner other than a handful of domainers and those branded as “left-wing” radicals such as the EFF.

  3. I think the ICANN Board’s approval of $25,000/yr salaries for themselves has not gone unnoticed. It’s yet another example of ICANN insiders profiting at the expense of the public interest. Instead of pretending to be “noble volunteers”, they’ve shown their true self-serving motives.
    Hogs at the trough ultimately get slaughtered. Oink!

    • David Battle says:

      Yeah, wow, $25k/year. They’re real pigs. I mean that’s a whole $5k per year above poverty.

      • Mike says:

        Seriously, Board members who are all highly respectable professionals, making far less than $100 an hour for their time. Oink.
        Comments like this are why your comments are always ignored by anyone who matters.

    • Jim Bob says:

      By George!
      Are you serious George? You honestly begrudge these persons $2,000.00 per month to put up with nonsense from people like yourself. IMHO they are very much underpaid regardless what their substantive job is.

  4. James says:

    Thanks for the analysis, Kevin. Sounds like NTIA wants to take their chances with the new ICANN Administration.

  5. Dabney says:

    >> Accordingly, we are cancelling this
    >> RFP because we received no proposals
    >> that met the requirements requested
    >> by the global community.
    I intrepret this as “we received a proposal from ICANN but it does not meet the requirements requested by the global community. Therefore we are going to put this out for bid again in the near future.”
    Not necessarily that ICANN does not meet the requirements, but the proposal that was submitted was not good enough. It still might be true that ICANN does not meet the requirements, but this comment is mostly about the proposal.
    Of course others probably submitted proposals, and if so, none of them were sufficient as well.

  6. JFC Morfin says:

    This is a difficult situation for the NTIA. The true question is Google+/Public DNS which is here, and the Internet+ and the ML-DNS that start being documented. Both free the internet from the need of an ICANN as it exists today, hence the need of a revamp, out of the political and legal mess of the New gTLD Project. A six months freeze can only help everyone.

  7. VPSLIST says:

    Great, UN control of the Internet is coming up… prepare for how wonderfully that is ran and if unsure, just look at any “humanitarian” mess operated by the UN.

  8. Jorge Amodio says:

    What bottom-up process?
    The “bottom” is not very well represented and lacks the resources to deal with the big interests and deep pockets running the ICANN circus.
    ICANN lost its spirit and mission long time ago…

  9. Gregg says:

    From the same folks that brought us the unimplementable OSI stack and X.500, want to take control of IP address administration and DNS naming.
    I hope the US government has enough sense to keep the standards wienies out of this arena.

  10. john werneken says:

    Why not tell the ITU and other countries to get F’d, and then restrict our own government to the issues of national security, bodily harm, and the use of forceful or extortionate methods of coercion – having a country law, a GAC rule, or an IANNA process to discourage those harms via the internet makes sense. No other country law does.
    We should not have any other such law in the US. And countries that disagree can always just unplug themselves. They all need the US more than the US needs the rest of the world all put together.
    The US Government and all other governments have no legitimacy or rights, they are merely in possession of significant ability to inflict physical violence, which they may or may not chose to use to protect their citizens from others and/or from each other. And they should be allowed to do no more.

  11. Allbeit, 18 cents per domain, per year is a bit ridiculous.

  12. fudmier says:

    It would be better to just shut down the Internet than to turn it over to politicians, large corporate monopoly and market forces, or to remove its bottom up human governance system, no matter how disorganized that governance is or becomes.
    Every human should have a say in how the Internet works and runs, but no group inspired fiction (corporation, government, etc) should have the authority to impose political, social, market, legal or economic policies on the Internet or those who use it.
    Worldwide, humanity has 3 rights which are inalienable, the right to ones natural life, the right to one’s personal liberty, and the right to pursue human happiness. Admittedly, it is sometimes very difficult to assert those rights.
    The success of the Internet has been because its governance belongs to non one, and because everyone has access to it and can contribute to it!

  13. Louise says:

    Applause to the NTIA and its strong stance. Somebody came to work this morning.

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