RIRs seek distance from ICANN
The Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers will meet in Bucharest, Romania this week for discussions that could ultimately decide whether the domain name system manager lives or dies. But even as a committee set up to address reform of the troubled organization published its first concrete recommendations, a key interest group looked to be distancing itself from ICANN,Kevin Murphy writes
The Committee on Evolution and Reform published a "blueprint" for a reformed ICANN, which ICANN participants and the board will discuss in Bucharest. It is based largely on recommendations the same committee published May 31, calling for increased participation from international domain managers, and a new method of selecting board members, among other measures.
While almost everybody agrees ICANN needs to change, the recommendations were not universally well received. Even some bodies with historically friendly relations came out against some measures.
The three Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) that are responsible for allocating IP addresses to internet service providers have for the most part had congenial relationships with ICANN, which is in turn responsible for allocating number blocks to the RIRs. The RIRs are the ARIN (North America), APNIC (Asia Pacific) and RIPE NCC (Europe).
The friendly terms between the three RIRs and ICANN have been stretched somewhat since ICANN CEO Stuart Lynn proposed reforms to the organization in February.
In April, the RIRs announced that they had come to agreement on the terms of a draft contract with ICANN that would set in writing what has so far been an informal relationship. But the RIRs warned that the Lynn proposals "could have a material effect" on the signing of a final contract, and in a document published last week, the RIRs tried to distance themselves still further from ICANN.
"The RIRs would propose that the relationship between the RIRs and ICANN be rephrased..." the three bodies said in a joint statement. "Given the discussion about ICANN reform the future of ICANN is by no means assured, and it is essential that we can ensure that the internet and its associated infrastructure service roles should continue to function even if ICANN fails."
The reform recommendations suggest the creation of a technical advisory committee (TAC) to coordinate issues such as address allocation, and to mandate board approval of policies concerning IP address issues. The RIRs believe that the recommendations would create extra levels of unnecessary bureaucracy and would take more decision-making power away from them.
In fact, the main thrust of the RIRs' recommendations is the delegation of more power to the RIRs, away from ICANN. They want to "assume greater levels of responsibility for operational roles that are currently shared between the RIRs and ICANN," according to their statement.
That the RIRs may want to distance themselves from ICANN is not entirely surprising. Everybody up to and including CEO Lynn and several US Congressmen has questioned ICANN's long-term survival in recent months.
In a recent Senate hearing, the Department of Commerce executive responsible for ICANN's relations with the US government, from which it derives its power, declined to guarantee ICANN's contract will be renewed when it expires in September. Renewing this so-called contract seems highly contingent on a successful outcome of the reform process that should finally see some movement in Bucharest this week.