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Seeing the Big Picture: A Reflection One Year into the IANA Stewardship Transition

Iana stewardship one year 640x426 19mar15

Working Session at ICANN 52 in Singapore, February 2015

Last Saturday, March 14th, marked the one-year anniversary of the NTIA's announcement of its intent to transfer its stewardship of the IANA functions to the Internet's global multistakeholder community. In the year since, the work and dedication shown by the stakeholders all over the world to develop a transition proposal has been impressive. Yet, I get questions all of the time asking, "What is going on now? Where's the proposal?"

Like many of you, I'm following these processes everyday – whether it's responding to emails, participating in calls or meeting around the world to raise awareness and discuss both the transition and work to enhance ICANN's accountability with stakeholders, and to support the community's engagement. Of course, not everyone is so deeply involved, and the work of the multistakeholder groups can be sometimes be complicated; its progress not always tangible. But what has occurred since the March announcement is remarkable and is a demonstration of the community working together to achieve this historical milestone.

So what has occurred – it's worth taking a step back to highlight what has been accomplished:

The community has developed and is deep into two parallel processes:

  • The IANA Stewardship Transition, focused on delivering a proposal to transition the stewardship of the IANA functions to the multistakeholder community; and
  • Enhancing ICANN Accountability, focused on ensuring that ICANN remains accountable absent its historical contractual relationship with the U.S. Government.

To drive these processes, the community created multilayered, transparent, and diverse working groups to foster discussion and, within those groups, develop working methods and systems for determining consensus. Representatives from more than 50 countries and the global business community are working together to contribute to the discussion.

With some help from our friends in the working groups, SO/AC leadership and internal staff support for the transition we have calculated that as of March 14th 2015:

Calls and Meetings: The working groups have held over 115 group calls and 6 face-to-face meetings. The time in these calls and meetings totals over 245 hours, and that does not include the countless hours of drafting, prep calls, document finalization, public comment assessment and information sharing.

Mailing List Exchanges: The working groups have exchanged over 12,446 emails through the more than 30 publicly archived community mailing lists dedicated to discussions of the transition and accountability processes.

Global Discussions: ICANN's Global Stakeholder Engagement team and ICANN leadership have participated in an estimated 219 events around the world, building awareness among diverse stakeholders and discussing the intricacies of the transition. Its important to note that this number does not count attendance for webinars, multiple sessions conducted at one event, nor events that ICANN staff was unable to attend.

It's apparent there is no shortage of effort dedicated to this significant undertaking. So let me again thank everyone involved in these processes, including those supporting them within ICANN and in the broader Internet community. We could not do it without you!

As NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling recently said, "I think the IANA transition, by being the most direct and concrete demonstration of the multistakeholder model at work on a difficult issue that engages everybody in the community, whether they come from the United States or any other part of the world, whether they come from business or civil society or from the technical community, is the absolute best demonstration we can make that this is a powerful process, that it delivers outcomes, and that it is a model that we all should aspire to and protect."

Yes, our community is in a fishbowl – all eyes are on us, watching to see if the multistakeholder model works.  NTIA is confident, I am confident and you should be confident too that, together, we will meet this test. We will achieve our historical goal.

-TS

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    Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."