The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has announced an end to its formal relationship with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) by September 2015.
The partnership between the U.S. government and the California-based ICANN was always understood to have been temporary. But recent revelations about U.S. internet spying triggered by leaks from Edward Snowden is highlighting claims of alleged U.S. government influence on ICANN operations.
ICANN is responsible for coordinating the internet's systems of unique identifiers or URLs, and ensuring its stable and secure operation. Its contract with the NTIA to operate the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions began in 1999.
NTIA also believed it was time for the change because of ICANN's maturity and its transparent decision-making process. There are conditions for ending the relationship, however.
One of these is that the transition away from the NTIA contract must have broad community support from Internet users, governments and companies. NTIA said the new governance model must also maintain the security, stability and resiliency of the Internet Domain Name System.
NTIA administrator Lawrence Strickling said ICANN's new governance model must also maintain the openness of the internet. He said NTIA will not support a governance model that puts control in the hands of governments only.
"I want to make clear that we will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or intergovernmental solution," Strickling said.
If ICANN meets NTIA's conditions to create a new governance model, the IANA contract will "gracefully sunset," said ICANN CEO and President Fadi Chehad.