April 7, 2014 – ICANN Transition Updates: For those following the United States’ transfer of IANA functions, stay tuned for Wednesday and Thursday of this week (Apr. 9-10) when the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology is scheduled to discuss and markup H.R. 4342, the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (the “DOTCOM”) Act of 2014.
According to a statement by Subcommittee Chairman, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR): “threats to the openness and freedom of the Internet are real, and there is no putting the genie back in the bottle once any kind of transition begins. So as part of our efforts to protect Internet freedom the subcommittee is going to vote this week on the DOTCOM Act.” He went on to state that “we must do all we can to protect freedom of the Internet and ensure countries such as Russia and China, and others like Iran, keep their hands off of the Internet.”
While the sparks may fly in Congress, it begs the question: with existing GAC involvement in the Multistakeholder model, including Russia, China and Iran, how much is really at risk? GAC is but one of many Committees that have infuence on ICANN. The existing “checks and balances” require “consensus,” and GAC voting members (like Iran and China) must obtain the approval and support of other governments (like the United States and European Commission) to shape policy. With over 130 GAC members these “other governments” already influence and shape policy.
If you like heated rhetoric, be sure to head to Capitol Hill with a bag of popcorn to watch the show. If you have concerns about the transfer of oversight, head to ICANN 50 – London in June to be part of the debate. The best way to protect freedom of speech, and the future of the Internet, is to learn about the process and participate. While Congress is sure to pass strong language (they won’t need your input), the policies will be shaped over the next 18-24 months at ICANN meetings.