ITIF recently submitted comments to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on the Midterm Review of the Joint Project Agreement (JPA).
The JPA is the most recent agreement between the Department of Commerce's NTIA and ICANN which outlines the responsibilities of ICANN to maintain a secure and stable DNS. In addition, the JPA reaffirms the Department of Commerce's commitment to the goal of transitioning the technical coordination of the DNS to the private sector in a manner that promotes stability and security, competition, bottom-up coordination, and representation. As part of this commitment, the Department of Commerce agreed to monitor the performance of ICANN in relation to the JPA.
However, ICANN has recently submitted a statement to NTIA in which it boldly claims that “the JPA is no longer necessary. Concluding it is the next step in the transition of the coordination of the Domain Name System (DNS) to the private sector.” While ICANN cites many accomplishments, none of these provide sufficient reason for NTIA to terminate the JPA with ICANN.
The U.S. government has had and continues to play an important role in maintaining the security, stability, and openness of the Internet. Without the JPA providing an effective backstop to ICANN's original operating principles, there would be no mechanism in place to stop foreign governments from interfering with ICANN's operations.
In its filing, ITIF recommends that the Department of Commerce should continue to support the management of the Internet domain name system by the private sector, and develop a framework for the long-term viability of ICANN. ITIF concludes that until such a framework is available, the Department of Commerce must continue to maintain its historic role and relationship with ICANN.