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NTIA throws a bomb, cancels IANA contract RFP

Kevin Murphy, March 10, 2012, 13:10:42 (UTC), Domain Policy

Just hours before ICANN’s Costa Rica meeting kicks off, the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration has cast uncertainty over the new gTLD program by throwing another of its now-traditional last-minute bombs.
CLICK HERE for the updated story.
It’s canceled the request for proposals that was expected to lead to ICANN being awarded a new IANA contract – the contract that enables it to approve new top-level domains.
In an amendment to the November RFP posted last night, the Department of Commerce said it “hereby cancels RFP SA1301-12-RP-IANA in its entirety.”
In a notice on the Federal Business Opportunities web site, it added:

Request for Proposal (RFP) SA1301-12-RP-IANA is hereby cancelled. The Department of Commerce intends to reissue the RFP at a future date, date to be determined (TBD). Interested parties are encouraged to periodically visit for updates.

ICANN’s current IANA agreement is due to expire at the end of March and, by my reading, the NTIA has used up all of its options to extend.
Many expected ICANN or the NTIA to announce that the new contract had been awarded to ICANN yesterday, or when the Costa Rica meeting officially kicks off this coming Monday.
For the RFP to be canceled now without explanation hangs a huge question mark over ICANN’s ongoing ability to approve new gTLDs.
There are already community murmurs about ICANN extending the current gTLD application window beyond its current April 12 deadline, and this development may feed such rumors.
This is a developing story, but at the moment it appears that yet again the NTIA’s last-minute attention-seeking bombshell has stolen the show before the show even begins.
UPDATE: Shortly after this story was published, the NTIA released its rationale for the cancellation. Read about it here.

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Comments (8)

  1. Given ICANN’s failure to look out for the public interest, NTIA/DOC should stop outsourcing the IANA function entirely, and instead manage it internally.
    ICANN and its insiders have gone “all in” with their self-serving new TLDs program, so I don’t expect them to change course. It’s time that the internet community starts thinking about a “post-ICANN” world. ICANN insiders, holding a poor hand, will “bust out” of this tournament due to their risky behaviour, like bad gamblers who’ve made one too many bad bets.
    Before ICANN was created, the root system managed to operate without any major problems. In a post-ICANN world, things should run equally smoothly, and without all the parasitic behaviour of the “insiders.”

  2. Scott says:

    Great reporting. Saw this one coming. When your boss (FTC) tells you to slow down on the gTLDs and you speed up it could only lead to trouble. Add in what’s-his-name jumping ship to minds and machines only moments after approving the new program and the corruption was uber obvious.

  3. Even Paul Twomey, past CEO of ICANN, weighed in recently in an ICANN comment period, see:
    So, I’m speculating that he might be involved in new TLDs somehow, still involved in the “ICANN ecosystem”, to have bothered to submit comments. That might be worth a story of its own…..

  4. ICANN got an extension.
    “The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) reached an agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to continue performing the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions until September 30, 2012. “

  5. Notice the key language in the NTIA release:
    “…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.”
    If that’s not a rebuke of ICANN and its self-serving proposals, then one is not paying attention. It’s time for ICANN to refund all the application fees, and go back to the drawing board. It can start by doing the proper economic studies, which it has refused to do, to consider *all* the alternatives, not just the ones that serve the ICANN insiders.

  6. Tom G says:

    Fuel for Russia, China, Brazil, India to push control to the U.N.

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