Here in Washington, DC we’re finally experiencing a changing of the seasons. The summer heat is retreating as cool , autumn air invades. It’s a changing of the guard–just like what’s happening to ICANN with today’s expiration of its oversight by the U.S. government. Only its a spring-like blossoming for ICANN.
The Department of Commerce has allowed the JPA to expire, thus completing the transition of DNS management to ICANN. There were many skeptics that wanted to give ICANN more time to develop permanent mechanisms for true accountability. Others were concerned about the threat of capture, especially on hearing proposals from the United Nations and European Commission to assume control over a newly-independent ICANN.
Over at the NetChoice blog, Steve DelBianco says that we should be pleasantly surprised to see the new Affirmation of Commitments unveiled by ICANN today, because it does much to address both of those concerns. It creates review mechanisms for accountability, new domains, and domains in non-Latin characters (IDNs).
These new “review teams” could bring to ICANN something similar to the ‘official review’ we have for football and tennis. For close, controversial decisions, this framework could help ICANN to correct a bad call and get back on-track. I can see a couple of areas where these new review teams can have an impact right away: I’m glad to see that the security review team has a forward-looking focus on making sure the DNS stays up 24-7, around the world, even under increasing security threats and a major expansion of top-level domains. The review team for competition and consumer choice might finally get ICANN to get its registrars to fulfill the role they were designed for: to offer consumers a choice of all top level domains—not just the ones that a registrar prefers to sell.
So it seems more like a Spring-like flowering than a Fall dropping of the leaves. ICANN gets independence, plus there’s a balanced framework that brings all governments into the oversight process alongside private sector stakeholders, with a sharpened focus on security and serving global internet users.