By Maggie Whitnall
There was overwhelming support from around the world as ICANN achieved its global aspirations to move from the previously held Joint Project Agreement (JPA) with the US Department of Commerce (DOC) to an Affirmation of Commitments.
The JPA, originally part of a memorandum of understanding with the DOC developed some 11 years ago, was set up to achieve ICANN’s goal to become a global, multi-stakeholder, private sector led corporation, where policy was developed from the bottom-up. Having achieved its objectives, ICANN now moves to an Affirmation of Commitments which commits ICANN to remaining an independent, private not for profit organisation that is, importantly, not controlled by any one entity.
In keeping with its global commitment, the document also recognises the importance of the rapid introduction of IDNs (internationalised domain names) allowing Internet users access to the Internet in their local languages and character sets.
In addition, the Affirmation of Commitments allows for a differently structured review process whereby global review committees (made up of volunteer community members and ICANN representatives chosen by the chairman of the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) and the CEO of ICANN) will be formed. The review committees will report specifically on:
• Ensuring accountability, transparency and the interests of global Internet users
• Preserving security, stability and resiliency
• Promoting competition, consumer trust, and consumer choice
The resulting recommendations of the reviews will be provided to the ICANN Board and posted for public comment. Whilst the United States Government will maintain its ongoing participation in the GAC, and hold a seat on one of the review committees, there will be no separate reporting to the United States Government.
Given the Affirmation of Commitments is long standing and is not limited to the three years for which previous agreements operated, it seems ICANN has taken a huge step in asserting its independence whilst entering into a new ‘global’ era. This is an incredibly positive step in the evolvement of the Internet and can only be applauded by this Registry Services Provider.