In March of this year U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickling announced the administration’s desire to withdraw from its oversight role over Internet naming, numbering, and protocol parameters. In that announcement he called for the community to come up with a proposal that I can submit through ICANN. Since that time, the community organized the IANA Coordination Group, develop a timeline, rolled up our sleeves, and got to work.
Now the first part of the proposal is nearly ready. The Internet Engineering Task Force who are responsible for policies relating protocol parameters has issued a last call on the draft that will be submitted to the ICG. Both the naming and number and communities are not far behind.
It was disappointing yesterday to see Gordon Crovitz complaining about a lack of progress in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, attempting to get the blame on President Obama. Crovitz acknowledged that nothing was broken. I agree. In fact in the process of developing the IETF part of the proposal, not a single person complained about the operational performance of the IANA staff. When a government role isn’t needed, it shouldn’t be performed, since it just costs U.S. taxpayer money. Oddly in this instance, Mr. Crovitz likes big government.
Mr. Crovitz also asserted that the NTIA direction would put the IANA functions into the hands of other governments. In point of fact all the proposals are being developed by the private sector, and the Internet technical community. While other governments may not trust United States to manage domain names, they do trust the private sector to do so. Sec. Strickling’s deft move provided strong support for United States positions at the recent ITU plenipotentiary conference in Busan, South Korea, that kept excessive government control of the Internet at bay.
Since we’re not in a hurry to fix something we might as well get the job done right so that the transition can succeed. The issues around Internet governance are complex and require serious consideration. While all institutions such as ICANN hold a public trust, abuse should only be heaped on them when it’s deserved. Today it was not. Instead what we saw it was a vindictive commentator attempting to score cheap political points against the administration at the expense of hard-working people and the long term interests of the Internet as a whole.
But don’t let the facts get in the way of good column.