Microsoft Applauds US NTIA’s Transition of Key Internet Domain Name Functions

Microsoft, via Corporate Vice President of  Microsoft Technology Policy David Tennenhouse, has released a statement about the US government relinquishing control of internet addresses.  As far as I’m concerned it’s a fairly hollow statement made only after it was certain transition would be made.

The U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s recent announcement of its intent to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multi-stakeholder community is a significant and welcome development.

Unlike the other major international communications networks (e.g., the telephone system and postal systems), there has been no single government-led organization that has guided the evolution and growth of the Internet. Instead, “Internet governance” has been the responsibility of literally dozens of different organizations, involving academics, technologists, government and business working collaboratively to create and implement the key standards, shape business practices, and develop norms that have enabled the Internet to grow at an astonishing rate over the last 20 years. This model has served the world well and led to countless innovations that have transformed our world. Initiating the final steps in the transition of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions now is a clear recognition of the value and success of this unique model.

The IANA functions are critical to the operation of the Internet – and the Internet technical organizations have worked carefully and collaboratively to ensure that we can all rely on the Domain Name System (DNS). The U.S. government has had a stewardship role over the IANA functions since their inception and, as part of the group that began the transition process in 1997, I can personally attest that our goal since that time has been to fully transfer stewardship to the global multi-stakeholder community.

As a worldwide leader in providing devices, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential, Microsoft relies on the stability, resilience and security of the DNS system to enable our cloud services – and we are confident that now is the right time to complete this transition. It is the logical next step in the evolution of the greatest technological innovation of our time, and we look forward to participating in the process with ICANN, IETF, IAB, ISOC and all other stakeholders.

I’m not particularly happy about this, I think this is going to cause a whole host of problems in the future.  Here are some concerns raised by the Washington Post:

“This is a purely political bone that the U.S. is throwing,” said Garth Bruen, a security fellow at the Digital Citizens Alliance, a Washington-based advocacy group that combats online crime. “ICANN has made a lot of mistakes, and ICANN has not really been a good steward.”

Business groups and some others have long complained that ICANN’s decision-making was dominated by the interests of the industry that sells domain names and whose fees provide the vast majority of ICANN’s revenue. The U.S. government contract was a modest check against such abuses, critics said.

“It’s inconceivable that ICANN can be accountable to the whole world. That’s the equivalent of being accountable to no one,” said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, a trade group representing major Internet commerce businesses.

[…] Concern about ICANN’s stewardship has spiked in recent years amid a massive and controversial expansion that is adding hundreds of new domains, such as dot-book, dot-gay and dot-sucks, to the Internet’s infrastructure. More than 1,000 new domains are slated to be made available, pumping far more fee revenue into ICANN.

Major corporations have complained, however, that con artists already swarm the Internet with phony Web sites designed to look like the authentic offerings of respected brands.

“To set ICANN so-called free is a very major step that should done with careful oversight,” said Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers. “We would be very concerned about that step.”

Source: Microsoft on the Issues

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