HR 57, Internet Governance and ICANN

Today, CADNA came out in support of House Resolution 57, which was introduced by Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade.  The Resolution makes the strong point that Internet governance is a key factor in national security, trade, and the protection of the intellectual property around the world.  It also urges U.S. President Barack Obama to continue to discuss the future of Internet governance, and to oppose the transfer of Internet governance to the United Nations or any other international governmental organization.

HR 57 will hopefully raise discussions of Internet governance among members of Congress.  But those discussions will be incomplete without mentioning the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).  A transparent and accountable ICANN is key to successful Internet governance.  Through its role in coordinating the domain name space, ICANN has significantly influenced the way the Internet has developed over the past 13 years.  But as we have mentioned many times before, ICANN’s policy development process and governance system are deeply flawed.

Both the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and the Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT) have voiced concerns about both ICANN’s internal structure and the planned rollout of new gTLDs.  

While ICANN represents a capable model for Internet governance as an international organization, its opacity and lack of substantial oversight makes placing the stability of the Internet in its hands a significant risk.  We think it would help ICANN get on the path to reform if a member of the U.S. Congress convened a hearing on Internet governance and policies under development in order to examine them more closely and bring any issues therein into the public spotlight.

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