March 23, 2014, Singapore — During the welcoming remarks, ICANN CEO, Fadi Chehade opened the meeting by asking the community to embark on the historic process to help determine what organization will replace the United States Government stewardship of the Internet. Only a week prior to the opening of the ICANN 49, the announcement was made that the United States was ready to give effect to its original stated intent, dating back to 1997, and transfer the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions.
While the announcement caused quite a stir, the intended transfer has been a long time coming. Many in Congress are wrongly using this as political fodder to attack President Obama and, not surprisingly, showing a lack of knowledge on this issue. The timing of the announcement is most likely a pre-emptive move to have a positive influence on forthcoming April 23rd Net Mundial meeting in Brazil, where a select group is going to discuss the future of Internet Governance. The announcement also allows us to participate at ICANN 49 and discuss how we move to a new structure.
The tone of the remarks are perhaps best captured by Fadi’s statements that: “The eyes of the world are on us [the ICANN Community]. Will the ‘multistakeholder’ model rise…my answer to the world is it will…we are here to receive this great honor from the United States Government and show that the Multistakeholder Model works.”
Today we begin the process to determine how we structure the discussions and over the next year or so we will begin to provide input on creating a successful transition plan. The ICANN Community has to determine what structure will be created. In Fadi’s words to succeed “we will not come back with a successful transition plan if it is government based or if governments replace the [US] stewardship…we need to be sure to maintain this partnership to give community absolute assurance on [internet] stability. We must keep the Internet open.”