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Cheers to the Multistakeholder Community

30 September 2016
By Steve Crocker

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Two and a half years ago, the ICANN multistakeholder Community embarked on a journey to develop a globally agreed on plan to transition the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) stewardship of the IANA functions to the global Internet Community. The process signaled the historic final step in transitioning the coordination and management of the Internet’s unique identifiers to the private-sector that began with the formation of ICANN in 1998.

The process to develop the package of transition proposals embodied the spirit of the Internet itself – global, diverse and inclusive. People from different economic sectors, cultures, interests and backgrounds worked together to develop two consensus proposals that ensure the continued stable and secure operation of the IANA services and an enhanced accountability for ICANN. One of the proposals focused on ICANN’s transparency and accountability. The other focused on arrangements with the three operational communities, the Regional Internet Registries for numbers, the Internet Engineering Task Force for protocol parameters, and the top-level domain registries for names.

The proposal development process reflected the Community’s dedication and commitment to achieving this historic final step. The community spent hundreds of hours in calls and meetings and exchanged tens of thousands of emails exploring and discussing complex governance issues, debating different views, and eventually finding consensus. This process tested and strengthened the trust in and across the ICANN community, and is a good demonstration of global multistakeholder policy development working. The resulting package of proposals has broad support because it reflects the Community’s work, and preserves the existing multistakeholder system while laying the foundation for a more accountable and equitable balance within the ICANN ecosystem.

Today, after months of preparation and implementation of the community’s tasks, ICANN’s contract with NTIA expired. As a result, the coordination and management of the Internet’s unique identifiers is now privatized and in the hands of the volunteer-based multistakeholder community.

The transition will help to ensure the continuation of a single, open Internet that users around the world can rely on for years to come. I am honored to be ICANN’s Chairman of the Board during this historic process.

The operational mechanisms and enhanced accountability frameworks outlined in the proposals are enshrined in ICANN’s new Bylaws, which are now in effect. The ICANN Community, Board and organization will now move forward together as a more accountable and transparent body. These changes, while vitally important for the relationships and management of ICANN, will have no visible effect on the operation of the Internet. The very large ecosystem of Internet System Providers, content providers and users will continue to function without change.

Thank you all again for your work throughout this process. I look forward to our ongoing collaboration on further accountability and transparency enhancements in Work Stream 2 of the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability, and everything else yet to come.


Steve Crocker

Former ICANN Board Chair