IANA Transition: On track for 30th September

By Aarti Bhavana

With just a month left for the 30th September deadline, ICANN has been busy completing all the tasks required by NTIA to ensure a smooth transition. The question of whether or not the IANA transition will happen has been answered via a letter from Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling (in response to the Implementation Planning Status Report). He announced that the transition is moving according to plan, and that the NTIA will allow the IANA Functions contract to expire on 1st October. Though this response was expected, it is still reassuring to receive official confirmation that this will bring to an end the U.S. government’s stewardship role over the IANA Functions, barring any unforeseen circumstances. In light of this update, this post unpacks the various implementation processes that have been going on ahead of the transition.

On 10th March 2016, the ICANN Board transmitted the IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal to the NTIA, which consisted of two documents: the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) proposal and the CCWG-Accountability Work Stream 1 Report. This came two years after NTIA’s initial announcement about its intention to transfer the U.S. government’s stewardship role over the IANA Functions to a global multistakeholder body.

On 9th June 2016, after careful evaluation, the NTIA announced that the proposal met the criteria outlined by the NTIA in March 2014. These criteria were laid out in March 2014, to ensure that the proposal:

  1. Supports and enhances the multistakeholder model;
  2. Maintains the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet DNS;
  3. Meets the needs and expectations of the global customers and partners of the IANA services;
  4. Maintains the openness of the internet; and
  5. Does not replace NTIA’s role with a government-led or intergovernmental organization solution

In the mean time, the ICANN community began working on the implementation of the recommendations proposed in the two reports, as they are a prerequisite for the transition to take place. This involved amending existing documents, drafting new contractual agreements, procedural changes and other organizational changes. In response to the NTIA’s request, ICANN prepared an Implementation Planning Status Report detailing the completed and ongoing implementation tasks.

The implementation process has been divided into three separate work tracks:

Track I: Root Zone Management (RZM)

In parallel to the work being done for the IANA Stewardship Transition is another track working on root zone management (RZM). The NTIA requested ICANN to work with Verisign to develop a proposal to transfer the NTIA’s role with respect to the RZM, while preserving the safety and stability of the DNS. Accordingly, Verisign and ICANN developed a proposal, which is part of the implementation process. A parallel root zone management system was built to simulate root zone functions in the absence of the NTIA, and has successfully completed its testing phase. Verisign and ICANN entered into a new agreement for root zone management functions, a service Verisign has been providing under a Cooperative Agreement with NTIA for decades. The ICG and CCWG-Accountability processes were developed by the community in keeping with the principle of multistakeholderism. However, the RZM process has been criticized for being closed. Only the draft agreement was open for public comment, while negotiations took place privately. This track has now been completed. 

Track II: Stewardship Transition

This track pertains to various implementation tasks required by the ICG proposal. One such task has been the incorporation of Public Technical Identifiers (PTI), the entity established to perform the IANA functions. This entity shall perform the IANA Functions according to the IANA Naming Functions Agreement (which is currently open for public comments). This track has also been working on the Service Level Agreement (SLA) for the IANA Numbering Services, which has been signed by the Regional Internet Registries and will come into effect on the date of the transition. A Customer Standing Committee (CSC) has been formed to ensure satisfactory performance of the IANA naming functions for its direct customers, in the absence of the NTIA. Further, a Root Zone Evolution Review Committee (RZERC) has also been formed to assist the ICANN Board with major architectural changes of the DNS root.

A few documents are yet to be finalized, but expect to be completed by 30th September. These are the PTI Bylaws, ICANN-PTI Services Agreement and the ICANN-PTI Naming Function Agreement.

Track III: Accountability Enhancement

This track relates to the Work Stream 1 tasks from the CCWG-Accountability report. In May, the ICANN Board of Directors passed a resolution approving the amended bylaws. Further, the Articles of Incorporation have also been amended and passed.

This track is also working on implementing enhancements to the Independent Review Process (IRP) for claims filed once the bylaws come into existence. Further, work is also underway on a number of other processes, such as updating the reconsideration process; initiating the new reviews required by the bylaws; incorporating the Affirmation of Commitments into the ICANN bylaws; and operationalizing the new community powers under the CCWG-Accountability report.[1]

Further details about the status of the three tracks can be found here.

[1] For more details about these processes, see the IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal Implementation Planning Status Report, pp 23-24.

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