The Internet Society’s New York Chapter (ISOC-NY) has joined a coalition of groups supporting the completion of the IANA Transition. This, along with similar letters from ISOC’s Kathy Brown, another coalition, and more, amount to practically unanimous approval of the transfer plan from the Internet community. This outpouring is the result of some possible bumps in the road.
After 18 years of steady progress since the formation of ICANN, and two years of intense negotiation within the multistakeholder community to come up with a plan, on Aug 12 2016 the NTIA declared that it intends to let the IANA Functions Contract expire on Sep 30 2016, “barring any significant impediment”. However, a significant impediment may indeed possibly arise in the form of congressional opposition. On the Senate side this is led by former presidential candidate Ted Cruz who, speaking on Sep 8 2016, vociferously spoke against it.
Cruz made several spurious claims – pretty much the opposite of reality – about the implications of the transfer, for instance, about the power of governments to control global content via ICANN, or that ICANN would leave U.S. jurisdiction. This prompted ICANN to issue a refuting FAQ.
Also on September 8, a bill opposing the transfer was introduced in the House, and several other prominent pols sent a letter to the DoC & DoJ raising anti-trust, jurisdiction, and accountability concerns. Cruz’s solution was to call for “continuing and strengthening” financial constraints imposed on the NTIA in 2015 via a continuing resolution, in effect de-funding the transfer in the imminent Appropriations Bill. If such were to happen, the only way the transition would go through would be via an Obama veto, and a resulting government shutdown. Something that did happen in the battle over Obamacare in 2013, but not seen as a likely prospect in 2016, despite it precipitating a Republican pratfall last time round.
However, transcendentally, whether such financial constraints do even in fact prevent the transfer taking place appear negated by a GAO report issued on Monday! The NTIA’s Larry Strickling immediately responded “We thank the GAO for its thorough analysis of the property implications of the IANA transition. We are pleased that GAO concluded that the transition does not involve a transfer of U.S. government property requiring Congressional approval.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing – chaired by Cruz – Protecting Internet Freedom: Implications of Ending U.S. Oversight of the Internet at 10am EDT Wednesday September 14 2016. There should be a webcast available on that link, and also audio via CapitolHearings.org.
** Video of the hearing is downloadable at http://isoc-ny.org/misc/2016-09-14_senate_iana.mp4 **