Obama plans to hand off control of the Internet to “foreign authorities” on October 1st.
Lawrence E. Strickling, an NTIA (National Telecommunications & Information) administrator wrote that without any “significant impediment”, the transition will occur October 1.
Let’s look at this rationally and clear-headed. This transition relates to DNS servers which are essentially the Internet’s directory of IP addresses to call upon. The handling of the directory of IP addresses is no longer going to happen under American authority and instead be handled by “foreign authorities”? Who exactly are these “foreign authorities” – and why does no one know? Boy, this sounds like a good idea!
For an administration touted on transparency and change, things are looking a little bit veiled right now.
Will the US Constitution matter on the lands wherever these “foreign authorities” taking control of our Internet govern? The directory of the web’s IP addresses will be in another country – will they have to follow the first and most important amendment to our US Constitution; our right to free speech?
These are important questions that must be addressed and answered immediately. We understand that ICANN is an independent organization and strictly regulated but the lack of transparency and discussion arouses suspicion. We know little to nothing of the technicalities behind what’s happening and the blanket term of “foreign authorities” does not ease fears. Obama has casually usurped the Internet for years now. SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, CISPA; his track record on Internet regulation is not pristine.
Worryingly, this transition was only brought to light a 1 1/2 months before implementation. There are many red flags and if we do not address them – do not even pause – to consider them, we’d be foolish.
What I’m proposing isn’t extreme – just an alarm that we need more details and specifics about the transition. As it stands, the update on the transition from the NTIA is brief and vague.
Strickling ends the update as follows:
“We appreciate the hard work and dedication of all the stakeholders involved in this effort and look forward to their continuing engagement.”
Stakeholders? Does that mean the bottom line is money? I think everyone has learned that when the bottom line is money, the only people getting negatively effected are me and you – the everyday, average American.
We have a month and a half before this takes effect. We must demand transparency and stop this from happening at all if it hinders free speech and expression online.
Spread the word, demand transparency.
UPDATE: REGATED has received a guest e-mail, correcting several things in this article. The best measure, I think, is to share the full e-mail and let the record be set straight:
“Hello, I ran across the following story on Regated by Jon Hall: I’m wondering if you would be willing to update it? Being somewhat familiar with the background of the IANA transition, there seems to be some confusion/inaccuracies. The article seems to be mainly based off this press release by NTIA
Information on the transition can be found at the NTIA review here:
https://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/combined_iana_stewardship_transition_assessment_report.pdf And the initial proposal here: https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/iana-stewardship-transition-proposal-10mar16-en.pdf Starting with the title: “Obama plans to hand off control of the Internet to “foreign authorities” on October 1st.” I note nowhere in the release does the phrase “foreign authorities” appear. The Regated article seems to use the quoted phrase 5 times (including the title), but that phrase does not appear on the press release, the proposal, or the proposal review — therefore who is being quoted? “Privatized” could have been used, considering the IANA transition is about removing the DOC’s (limited) oversight role over IANA and replacing it with international government/technical stakeholder/interested corporation oversight. Quoting the Regated article: “The handling of the directory of IP addresses is no longer going to happen under American authority and instead be handled by “foreign authorities”? Who exactly are these “foreign authorities” – and why does no one know?” The US government’s authority as it regards to DNS is currently extremely minimal: “NTIA’s role as the historic steward of the DNS via the administration of the IANA functions contract is limited and clerical in nature. NTIA has no role in the management of Internet numbering resources or Internet protocol parameters functions. For the root zone management function, NTIA verifies that ICANN followed established policies and procedures in processing change requests, and then authorizes implementation of those changes by the root zone maintainer, Verisign. NTIA’s role does not involve the exercise of discretion or judgment with respect to such change requests.” (Source: Proposal assessment report) According to that, the NTIA is only certifying that the processes are being followed. They do not control anything.
The ‘transition’ is about removing that oversight role, and replacing it with community oversight. As to “Who exactly are these “foreign authorities” – and why does no one know?”, the oversight stakeholders are known. For ‘names’ (I.E., regated.com): “”The CWG does propose to discontinue NTIA’s current root zone change validation and authorization role, based on its determination that this role does not significantly contribute to the security or operations of root zone management or the DNS overall. However, with respect to NTIA’s role in approving changes to the architecture and operation of root zone management, the CWG proposes this role continue on the grounds that such changes are critical to maintaining the security, stability, and resiliency of the DNS. It proposes that the ICANN Board formally approve such changes, but that approval is to be based on recommendations of a to-be-formed standing committee responsible for ensuring the appropriate individuals and organizations with requisite skill and expertise are involved.”” This is the ICANN board: https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/board-of-directors For ‘numbers’ (220.127.116.11): “[The numbers proposal team] further proposs the creation of a Review Committee that will advise and assist the Number Resource Organization’s Executive Committee (NRO EC) in periodically reviewing the IFO’s performance and adherence to agreed service levels. The Review Committee will be comprised of community representatives from each region.” This is the NRO EC: https://www.nro.net/about-the-nro/number-resource-organization-executive-council The remainder of the article claims that this announcement came as a shock. “Worryingly, this transition was only brought to light a 1 1/2 months before implementation. There are many red flags and if we do not address them – do not even pause – to consider them, we’d be foolish.” This transition process was first announced in March of 2014: https://www.ntia.doc.gov/press-release/2014/ntia-announces-intent-transition-key-internet-domain-name-functions The proposal was announced on July 2015, with requests for public comments: https://www.ianacg.org/calls-for-input/combined-proposal-public-comment-period/ In June 2016 NTIA accepted the proposal:
A week ago ICANN announced it was on-track for creating the called-for oversight bodies: https://www.icann.org/news/announcement-3-2016-08-12-en Therefore, the statement “this transition was only brought to light a 1 1/2 months before implementation” is not true. It’s been a multi-year process. Anyway, please let me know when an update will be made to the article. Thanks!”
With my call for transparency, it seems there was tons of it – I just didn’t dig deeper than the first press release I found. I thank the e-mailer who brought all of my errors to my attention and for setting things straight.
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