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Observation from Seminar on IANA Function Stewardship Transition Held by CAICT

This article was co-authored by GUO Feng, Senior Research Fellow of China Academy of Information and Communication Technology (CAICT) and JI Yenan, Research Fellow of CAICT

On August 16 of 2016, the US Government announced its intention to transit the stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function to the multistakeholder community upon the expiration of the IANA function Contract as of October 1 of 2016, barring any significant impediment, in a formal letter to Mr. Göran Marby, President and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This announcement attracts the close attention of Internet community around the world and also in China. On August 30 of 2016, China Academy of Information and Communication Technology (CAICT), which serves as a China ICT Think Tank and has long been concerned with and involved in global Internet governance, held a Seminar on IANA Function Stewardship Transition (Referred to as the “IANA transition”) inviting representatives from China Internet community to discuss topics such as the progress of the IANA transition, the influences on China Internet community, post-transition developments, and attentive issues of future Internet governance. 16 representatives from government agencies, registries, registrars, industrial organizations, research institutes and universities participated in the seminar.

The participants generally welcomed the progress of the IANA transition. They viewed that the process of IANA transition has entered a relatively steady stage and estimated that the smooth transition is highly probable at the time of the expiration of the IANA function Contract on September 30. However, some participants showed their concerns with possible problems and risks in the operation of the IANA function after transition. They identified that, although the rules and mechanisms for the operation of the IANA function after transition have been established, ICANN newly-established Post-Transition IANA (PTI), new community supervision mechanisms, such as Customer Standing Committee (CSC) and Root Zone Evolution Review Committee (RZERC), and other mechanisms and organizations related to the IANA function, may go through a long adaption period after transition which will be tested and verified whether these mechanisms and organizations could operate with one another stably and effectively.

The participants of the seminar also looked into the future development after transition. The representative from registries and registrars clearly expressed that ICANN should focus on its main business after transition to provide better services. The business community in China tended to have high expectation of Mr. Göran Marby, the new President and CEO of ICANN, for his practical work style and attitudes after taking his post, and hoped that ICANN could initiate the next round of the new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) program as soon as possible. Some participants pointed out that some topics such as human rights discussed by the CCWG-Accountability Work Stream 2 (WS2) were, to certain extent, away from the working scope of ICANN as a “technical coordinator” of DNS whose influences on the future operation of ICANN needed to be further observed. Some participants also discussed and expressed their concerns with the attentive issues of Internet governance in the future such as Internet fragmentation, governance of domain name registration data, and development of the new gTLD market, etc.

The participants unanimously expected that, with the enhanced capacity building and industrial development, China Internet community would participate more actively in ICANN processes and play a more important role in ICANN and global Internet governance arena after transition. They viewed the recent attempts of some volunteers from China Internet community taking part in the election as council members of Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) and Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) as firm actions which shows the willingness of China Internet community to promote the contribution for ICANN community and hoped that representatives from China Internet community would be elected into the ICANN Board in the near future.

The participants considered the holding of the seminar was in a timely manner during the present key period for them to further understand the IANA transition and the tendency of the future Internet governance and would contribute to promoting the participation of China’s Internet community in global Internet governance and strengthening the information sharing, communication and cooperation of the community. All participants thanked CAICT and encouraged CAICT hold more events continuously in the future.

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About the Organization – CAICT is a research institution affiliated to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) of China and aiming at building a high-end professional Think Tank and the industrial innovation and development platform, outreaching broadly to China Internet community. With profound research ground, CAICT has long been engaged in promoting experience exchange, information sharing, common understanding and consensus of China Internet community and made proactive contributions to the strength accumulation of China Internet community and enhancing the participation and involvement of China Internet community in global Internet Governance processes.

By Guo Feng, Senior Research Fellow, China Academy of Information & Communication Technology

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