Internet Governance

A Key Moment for the IANA Transition

This is a key moment for the IANA transition. On September 30, the contract between the US Commerce Departments National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is set to expire. As this date approaches, some members of the United States Congress have expressed reservations about allowing the IANA transition to go forward. There have been calls by some to block the transition while others have suggested that a delay is in order.  

In a letter to key Congressional leaders, the Internet Society CEO, Kathryn Brown, urges Congress to allow the transition to proceed without delay. 

We always advocated that a successful IANA transition will strengthen the collaborative, multistakeholder model of governance that has been at the foundation of the Internet’s success to date. The Internet Society has been and, continues to be, confident that this can be done in a way that allows the current contract to expire at the end of September 2016. We see no reason to delay the IANA Stewardship Transition. In fact, we believe that any delay would add a degree of instability and make the prospect of government control of the Internet more likely, not less. It would signal to those who want to control the Internet that the US government believes this technology does not work as designed. It would tell the global Internet community that its consensus around the IANA proposal is meaningless.

The Internet Society believes the IANA transition plan will provide for the uninterrupted operation of the global Internet and, thus, we fully support the transition without delay.  

You can read the full letter here.

IETF Internet Governance Open Internet Standards

Rough Guide to IETF 91: The IANA Transition Process

Paving the way toward an IANA transition process – the IETF “Draft Response to the Internet Coordination Group Request for Proposals on IANA” is in the WG Last Call.

In March 2014, the U.S. National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) announced its intent to transition oversight of Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions. In that announcement, NTIA asked the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to convene and facilitate a process to deliver a proposal for transition. As part of that process, the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) was formed.

The ICG’s mission is to coordinate the development of a proposal among the “operational” communities affected by the IANA functions. The IANA functions are divided into three main categories: domain names, number resources, and other protocol parameters. The “operational” community for the protocol parameters function is the IETF community.

To develop an IETF consensus response to be submitted to the ICG and that describes the expected interaction between the IETF and the operator of IETF protocol parameters registries, IETF chartered an IANAPLAN working group. The development of the draft follows the IETF standard process that is (a) open – anyone can participate, (b) transparent – all the proposals and discussions are publicly available (see, and (c) the final outcome should have IETF consensus.

Good progress has been made since the creation of the working group. The current, third version of the draft, “Draft Response to the Internet Coordination Group Request for Proposals on IANA” is in the WG last call that will end on 11 November.

So, what are the main points of the draft and the main discussion themes?

Let’s start with the draft itself. I want to stress here that the items below are current draft items, which may change through the course of the working group and the IETF review.

The draft documents the existing scope and structure of the IANA protocol parameters function and outlines the IETF policy role for the overall management of the registries as stated in RFC6220 “Defining the Role and Function of IETF Protocol Parameter Registry Operators” and RFC5226 “Guidelines for Writing an IANA Considerations Section in RFCs,” and the role of the IAB as an oversight body. The work to be carried out by the IANA staff for the IETF and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) is defined and documented in the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between ICANN and the IETF community and has been in place since 2000.

The draft concludes that no structural and no major changes “are required, however, the IETF community has expressed a desire for several points to be addressed by supplemental agreements to the IETF-ICANN MoU, prior to a transition to post-NTIA regime.”

What are these points? Again, these are still open for review and comments.

  • First, it is the intellectual property rights related to the data of the registries. The draft asks the IAOC to engage the appropriate parties, both inside and outside the IETF, to make clear that data in the protocol parameters registries is in the public domain.
  • Secondly, it is an issue related to the dispute resolution mechanisms. Here, “the IAOC is asked to conclude a supplemental agreement regarding jurisdiction and any necessary dispute resolution mechanisms that are mutually acceptable to the parties.”
  • Thirdly, the existing NTIA contract provides for contingencies when a transition to another operator is required in the future. The IAOC is asked to supplement the MoU with similar provisions and the requirement of the transfer of any associated marks and identifiers to subsequent operators. Regarding the latter requirement, there was a substantial discussion on the list on how to ensure that, in the event of future transition, there is no confusion regarding the location and content of the IETF protocol parameters registries.

Regarding these concerns it is important to stress, as the draft does, that the “IETF community is quite satisfied with the current arrangement with ICANN.” In this sense the draft supports the current status quo, but, also, inserts a form of an “insurance” request for unforeseen future events.

One of the interesting points of the discussion concerned what the protocol parameter registries encompass. A casual reader will most probably associate this with, but these are not all of them.

In fact the IETF is responsible for policy relating to all number space with the exception of the space delegated to the Internet Number Registry System, which includes the architectural definition of the entire IP address AS number space. There are several sub-registries for special IPv4 and IPv6 assignments as well as a number of special use registries with regard to domain names that the IETF maintains.

The working group will meet 13:00-15:00 (Hawaii Standard Time) on Monday, 10 November 2014 to review and discuss the outstanding issues in draft-ietf-ianaplan-icg-response as well as next steps.

The deadline to submit proposals to the ICG is 15 January 2015.

IANAPLAN (Planning for the IANA/NTIA Transition) WG
Monday, 10 Nov 2014, 1300-1500 HST, Coral 3

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Internet Governance Technology

Understanding the IANA Functions

“NTIA Announces Intent to Transition Key Internet Domain Name Functions” – this caption has marked much of Internet governance discussions so far in 2014 and it is expected to continue to do so in 2015, at least until the 30th of September, when the IANA contract is set to expire. 

Since 1999, the IANA functions have been contracted to ICANN and have historically included:

  • The coordination of the assignment of technical Internet protocol parameters performed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF);
  • The administration of certain responsibilities associated with Internet DNS root zone management;
  • The allocation of Internet numbering resources to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs); and,
  • Other services related to the management of the .ARPA and .INT top-level domains. 

For the Internet and its community of users, discussions on the proposed transition of the IANA functions is important because it concerns both the technical stability of the Internet and the accountability to the public for these functions. Because of this, the NTIA has communicated that the transition proposal should have the broad support of the Internet multistakeholder community and must adhere to the following minimum principles:

  • Support and enhance the multistakeholder model;
  • Maintain the security, stability and resiliency of the Internet DNS;
  • Meet the needs and expectation of the global customers and partners of the IANA services; and,
  • Maintain the openness of the Internet. 

In addition, the NTIA made clear that its role should not be replaced by an intergovernmental structure.

It is important to remind ourselves of these criteria. The IANA functions involve a set of technical specifications that allow people to send emails and access websites in a friendly and easy way; they are part of a technical design. Understanding what the IANA functions are is important. And, as part of this process, it is equally important to understand what the NTIA criteria mean.

The Internet Society is contributing to this understanding. Early on in the process, it released a paper that uses everyday examples to explain what the IANA functions are and how they interrelate. Moreover, as an identifiable partner of the IANA services, ISOC has elected Narelle Clark and Demi Getchko as its representatives to the IANA Coordination Group and is in continuous discussions with its chapter and organization members. Finally, initiating a substantive dialogue on the NTIA criteria, the Internet Society has produced a living document on the openness of the Internet; it is planning to do the same for the other criteria. 

As a delegation of staff and members heads to ICANN 51 in LA, the Internet Society maintains that: 

  • The ongoing process for transition stewardship of the IANA by the US government is a process that needs to be focused and result in a timely proposal carried by the broad Internet community.
  • Issues of accountability constitute core elements of the discussions, especially as they relate to and inform the core issue of the IANA transition discussions; and,
  • All interested parties should recognize that the directly affected parties have their own processes for consent, which can be used as case studies that can positively contribute to the discussion. Case in point the IETF.

The Internet Society will continue to deliberate and offer its views on the conformity of the proposals to the NTIA criteria. We will further continue to facilitate a successful IANA transition process with the rest of the Internet community.