A few weeks back, we wrote about the upcoming expiration of the IANA contract between the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and ICANN. At that point, the NTIA had announced that it will be accepting proposals from potential new contractors between early November and early December of this year.
Now, the NTIA has officially issued its Request for Proposal, and it includes a few marked changes from previous iterations of the IANA contract. For one, it includes much more stringent language requiring the contractor disclose any conflicts of interest.But perhaps most surprising to some is the fact that the NTIA will now require the new contractor to be a wholly U.S. owned an operated firm or fully accredited U.S. college or university. Previously, the NTIA had only required that the contractor maintain a physical address in the U.S.
ICANN has been responsible for managing the IANA functions since 1998, but this responsibility is technically separate from its policy-making activities. If another organization is awarded the IANA contract, it could impact the way the New gTLD Program plays out. This is because the new contractor must provide documentation that proves ICANN followed its own policies to delegate and re-delegate gTLDs, as well as how the delegated gTLDs support the global public interest.
Of course, the potential strength or weakness of that provision depends on what entity is ultimately awarded the IANA contract – ICANN or another organization.