Washington, D.C.—Senator Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, Chairman of the Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force, was joined by co-sponsors Senators Blunt, Coons, Inhofe, and Warner, in cheering passage of the Hatch-Blunt Internet Governance Awareness Week resolution (S. Res. 71), which cleared the Senate by unanimous consent on Thursday night.
“Next week, ICANN will hold its 52nd public meeting in Singapore to discuss the proposed IANA Stewardship Transition, something that will have tremendous effects on Internet infrastructure and governance around the world,” Hatch said. “It’s crucial that the public know what is at stake, especially considering the political and economic consequences of getting this wrong. This resolution is a step in the right direction, and will send a message that the United States remains engaged on the core functions and governance of the Internet.”
“The rapid expansion of the Internet drives economic growth and freedom of expression around the world, and the U.S. plays a pivotal role in that development through our commitment to the bottom-up, multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance,” Blunt said. “I’m pleased this important resolution has passed so that we can increase public awareness of Internet governance and the implications of the NTIA’s proposed transition, and affirm that the United States will not accept a proposal that replaces NTIA’s role with that of another government-led or inter-governmental organization.”
“There is inherent risk in the transition to a pure multi-stakeholder model of internet governance,” Senator Warner said. “This resolution underlines the need to act in a way that, without question, preserves a secure, stable, decentralized and open internet.”
The National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA), a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, holds a stewardship role over the domain name system by virtue of a contractual relationship with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit incorporated in 1998 to manage and oversee some of the Internet’s technical underpinnings.
Specifically, NTIA has contracted out the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions to ICANN. These functions include the right and responsibility to assign domain names. NTIA’s contract with ICANN is set to expire September 30, 2015. While NTIA has not set a deadline for the IANA Functions Stewardship Transition to the global Internet community, it retains the option to extend the current contract – for up to four years – if specific conditions are not met.
On February 8-12, 2015, ICANN will hold its 52nd public meeting in Singapore to continue discussions about the IANA Stewardship Transition. The Hatch-Blunt resolution designates the week of February 8th as “Internet Governance Awareness Week.” In particular, the resolution will focus on three specific principles to be considered during the week:
- Increasing public awareness regarding the March 14, 2014, announcement by NTIA declaring its intention to transition its stewardship role to the global, multistakeholder community;
- Encouraging public education about the implications of the proposed transition;
- Calling the attention of the participants at ICANN’s next global meeting in Singapore to the importance of designing a transition proposal for the stewardship of key Internet functions in conjunction with accountability and governance reforms of ICANN.
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