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Conclusion of JPA: CEO’s message

9 February 2008
By Kieren McCarthy

Full transcript below:

Hello. My name is Paul Twomey, and I’m the President and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — or ICANN.

ICANN is an international, non-profit organization created in 1998 by the Internet community in response to a call from the United States government to coordinate a key part or what enables billions of computers and other devices worldwide to connect quickly and easily with one another and to share information between themselves.

This system, known technically as ‘unique identifiers’, includes such things as domain names and internet protocol addresses. Without that system, the internet as we know it simply would not exist.

The blueprint for this new institution was as unique as the Internet itself. Recognizing that a global addressing system this powerful should not be managed by one interest group or one individual, a new type of multi-stakeholder model was envisioned where all parties would sit down, devise and agree a policy before it was implemented.

This institution, ICANN, was specifically designed to be led by the private sector. Indeed, it was the President of the United States who directed that this should occur.

In 2006, however, the memorandum of understanding between the United States government and ICANN was changed to recognize the significant progress ICANN had made. The community and ICANN have achieved more in 2007 than in any previous year.

Now, the United States government is asking people for their comments in a review of the agreement. Over the past nine years ICANN has built an Internet-style liberty where anyone at all can get involved in developing the policies that help define the Internet’s future expansion.

What the past nine years has taught us, however, is that there are no signs of the internet’s capacity for change ending. The steady state of the internet is in fact a state of change.

And so ICANN, as a body that seeks to keep pace with the internet’s twist and turns, has learned to embrace change going so far as to hardwire it into its constitution. Change has become part of ICANN’s makeup. It simply has to be.

We must always strive to do more to serve today’s 1.1 billion users of the internet and tomorrow’s billions more.

What has happened since 1998 could hardly have been imagined when the United States government first helped create ICANN. And with hindsight the original plan to grant the organizational autonomy within two years was profoundly optimistic.

But over the course of ICANN’s nine years the organization has developed from the ground up to become a stable and transparent body where coordination is valued above control; and where no one party can claim precedence over another.

At ICANN meetings held three times annually individuals from every corner of the globe and significantly from every corner of society sit and debate the future policies of the internet’s naming and addressing system.

It is evidence that the organization is fulfilling its mandate and responsibilities. For example, input from the community has shaped our principles and frameworks for accountability and transparency which you can find on this website. [http://icann.org/transparency/acc-trans-frameworks-principles-10jan08.pdf]

The international board of ICANN believes that ICANN is fulfilling the responsibilities it assumed in the JPA back in 2006. Moreover, the move towards greater community ownership has led to more effective and more efficient policy development.

As such, ICANN believes it is now time to take the next logical step and recognize the successful completion of the joint project agreement. This will not change the way things are done now to coordinate the internet’s addressing system.

It could, in fact, be a move that makes it more secure as the model is enshrined rather than being perceived to be still being evaluated by one government. Let me be clear.

We’re not talking about terminating the JPA tomorrow, but it’s equally clear that the model ICANN represents of coordination–not control– of multi-stakeholder participation and led by the private sector needs to be confirmed once and for all.

Until the 15th of February, the United States Department of Commerce will be receiving comments from the public. If you think now is the time for another step in creating confidence in a globally coordinated internet–not a controlled one– then now is the time to make your voice heard.

To find out more, please read the ICANN JPA submission for more detail. You’ll find that here on the ICANN website under the heading ‘Joint Project Agreement, ICANN’s Response.

Thank you for listening.


Kieren McCarthy