Feeds

US government steps back from internet control

But very slowly

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Analysis The US government has taken a step back from control of the internet with a new contract between it and overseeing organisation ICANN that came into effect yesterday.

The three-year contract, with an apparently significant halfway review point, has been heralded by both ICANN and the Department of Commerce as a sign that the US government has listened to worldwide criticism of its continued oversight role and has responded by providing ICANN with a new degree of autonomy.

However, experts disagree, with one calling it "old wine in a new bottle", and another barely concealing his frustration with an administration that promised eight years ago it would end its role but now has decided "we will have to wait another three years, at a minimum".

There are some significant changes in the new contract, reflected in a new name for it: it is no longer a "memorandum of understanding" but a "joint project agreement". The US government has pulled out its prescribed list of actions that ICANN has to meet before it is given autonomy - something that has been continually refreshed since 1998 and was universally criticised as a compliance merry-go-round.

Instead, the requirements that ICANN needs to achieve before being granted freedom come in the form of an "Affirmation of Responsibilities" that was approved by the ICANN board. This list was produced by the US government and handed to the ICANN board for approval.

Most controversially, it includes the blinkered approach to "whois" data that US organisations have lobbied so hard in Washington for, but which the wider internet community disagrees with. But the shift in emphasis is nonetheless significant. ICANN says: "ICANN will no longer have its work prescribed for it. How it works and what it works on is up to ICANN and its community to devise."

Meeting people is easy

Another important change is the fact that ICANN will no longer be required to report direct to the US government every six months. Instead, it will produce an annual report for the internet community as a whole. ICANN is also upbeat about the fact that "there is no requirement to report regularly to the DoC. The DoC will simply meet with senior ICANN staff from time to time."

But as commentators have been quick to point out, it is precisely this frequent interaction with ICANN staff that enabled the Bush Administration to interfere with approval of the .xxx domain - something that led to rare public condemnation by the EU of a "clear case of political interference".

The JTA's exact wording is that "the Department [DoC] will hold regular meetings with ICANN senior management and leadership to assess progress".

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Next page: The reality

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.