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Australia doubts ICANN is ready to run the internet

Comms Minister Malcolm Turnbull follows US lead on governance, with caveats

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Australia's communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has endorsed USA's decision to hand over core internet supervisory chores to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Calling the USA's decision “A momentous day in the history of the Internet” in a blog post, Turnbull says the USA's current involvement in internet oversight is “... central, but increasingly symbolic ...”. But Turnbull also notes the USA's role “ has aroused more and more controversy and from some quarters animosity” as stakeholders wonder “How could the Internet belong to the world and yet at its very heart be overseen by a contract with the US Government?”

Turnbull therefore supports the move to the USA's proposal, if the proposed replacement regime has “... broad support across the global Internet community but it must be one which supports and enhances the multi-stakeholder model and in particular must not involve the replacement of the US Government with a government-led or inter-governmental organization, like the ITU or the UN.”

But the minister is not sure that ICANN is ready for the job, asking “ Is ICANN now sufficiently representative, sufficiently trusted that it can manage the DNS root zone, allocate top level domains and country top level domains without oversight other than that which comes internally from its board and the global constituencies they represent?”

He does, at least, position ICANN as the front-runner and offer Australia's support, writing “There is a lot of work to do to support ICANN in transitioning to a new model and the Australian Government, committed as it is to a multi-stakeholder system of governance, will work with the Australian and global Internet community including other governments to ensure that the Internet remains free, stable and resilient and continues to be a powerful platform for freedom around the world.”

Those words aren't entirely hollow: Australian Bruce Tonkin sits on ICANN's board. Compatriot Paul Twomey was the organisation's chair and president from 2003-2010, giving Australia plenty of influence within the organisation. ®

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