WASHINGTON, September 30, 2011 – The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) commends Senator Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) recent letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), urging NTIA to ensure any contracts regarding the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) include clear ethics rules and conflict of interest requirements. Sen. Wyden’s letter could not come at a better time: the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) currently administers IANA functions through a contract with the NTIA, and that contract is currently under review. ICANN has come under fire lately for its “revolving-door” structure, where there are no regulations preventing staff members and even Board members from moving freely between the regulatory organization to the domain name industry it is tasked with regulating.
“When you see examples of ICANN leaders and staff members creating policies that impact the domain name industry, only to turn around and leave ICANN to go work in the industry, there is clearly a conflict of interest,” said CADNA president Josh Bourne. “CADNA is very encouraged by the fact that Sen. Wyden has stepped up to bring this issue to the NTIA’s attention, and that in his response, Assistant Secretary Strickling agreed with the need for the IANA contractor to maintain high levels of transparency and efficiency. However, the true test will be whether or not ICANN is actually held to those standards in practice.”
ICANN’s contract with the NTIA was originally set to expire today, and the NTIA would have been forced to assess whether or not ICANN adheres to the high ethics and conflicts of interest requirements that it believes an IANA contract holder must. However, in June, the NTIA decided to extend the contract for an extra six months, until March 31, 2012. CADNA urges the NTIA to use this time to turn a keen eye toward ICANN and to scrutinize its policies and practices in order to determine whether it is fit to continue to administer the IANA functions.
“Holding ICANN to a high standard as the holder of the IANA functions contract is already hugely important because of the critical role that the domain name system plays in the functionality of the Internet,” Bourne continued, “but with the new gTLD application round about to open in January and the domain name space on the brink of expanding exponentially, the stakes are even higher. The importance of these matters is simply too great to leave them to a regulator that is not adequately accountable.”
The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the systemic domain name abuses that plague the Internet today. For more information, please visit www.cadna.org.