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ICANN says it's business as usual following governance change

08 октября 2009

Internet DNS coordinator plays down impact of new Affirmation of Commitments.

The head of media at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers was somewhat taken aback at the level of interest generated by the news last month that the US government would no longer have unilateral control over ICANN.

On 30 September, ICANN, which is responsible for the global coordination of the Internet domain name system, announced that it had agreed a new Affirmation of Commitments that essentially replaces the previous Joint Project Agreement. In simple terms, the new Affirmation means that ICANN will no longer be subject to review by the US government alone, but rather by a more global community.

According to Brad White, director of ICANN's media affairs, some reports heralded the news as "independence day for ICANN".

"We don't see it like that," said White, who was speaking to Total Telecom at ITU Telecom in Geneva on Wednesday. "We have always been independent."

Indeed ICANN will continue to operate in pretty much the same way as it has always done: as a not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder group with a bottom-up, decision-making process.

White commented that it was always the perception that the US government had greater control over ICANN that it actually practised. "There was a great deal of global animosity about the involvement of the US government," he added.

In fact the Affirmation is the culmination of 11 years of work to establish the correct structure under which ICANN would operate, said White. It confirms that a private, multi-stakeholder model is the correct one for Internet governance.

Many will still see the move as a welcome step away from US control. But ICANN appears unfazed by the global responses. "We are used to discussions," said White. "It's always been unruly."

ICANN is currently grappling with bigger issues than its own constitution: it wants to open up generic top-level domains and has faced a barrage of complaints and criticisms over the planned move.

There are currently 21 gTLDs, which include the likes of .com, .net and so on. But White said this is an arbitrary number and there is no real need for it to be kept at this level. So ICANN wants to create more.

One of the most criticized aspects, apart from issues related to intellectual property rights, is the fact that ICANN wants to charge US$185,000 for the initial cost of operating a new gTLD. "We have had a lot of heat over that," said White."

But he said if a company or organization wins the right to run a gTLD, they are essentially running a registry. For example, in the way that VeriSign runs the .com TLD. White said the price has not yet been set in stone, in any case, as ICANN has not completed the process determining the requirements for setting up and operating a new TLD.


Источник: Total Telecom

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