US Awards Contract For Key Internet Function To ICANN

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The United States government on 2 July announced it has awarded a contract to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to manage a key underlying function of the internet for up to 7 years.

The function is management of the similarly named Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which encompasses the function of adding and removing web addresses on the internet. The IANA is an important element of the internet retained by the US government in the decades since the invention of the internet. It is overseen by the US Commerce Department National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA).

ICANN is a California-based non-profit private corporation with technical oversight of the internet domain name system. It has recently received significant scrutiny for its decision to invite applications for a large number of new top-level internet domains, and just finished a Board meeting last week in Prague.

“The IANA functions are key technical services critical to the continued operations of the Internet’s underlying address book, the Domain Name System (DNS),” NTIA said in a release.

The contract will run from 1 October 2012 to 30 September 2015, and has two 2-year option periods, for a total contract period of seven years. ICANN also holds the current contract, which expires on 30 September.

NTIA held an extensive consultation in the past year and added new requirements, such as: “a clear separation between the policy development associated with the IANA services, and implementation by the IANA functions contractor; a robust company-wide conflict of interest policy; a heightened respect for local national law; and a series of consultation and reporting requirements to increase transparency and accountability.”

NTIA insisted that the process reflects its “belief that the multistakeholder model is the most effective way to address Internet issues, and further internationalizes the IANA functions.” It is not clear if other countries feel the same way.

According to NTIA, the IANA functions include: “(1) the coordination of the assignment of technical Internet protocol parameters; (2) the administration of certain responsibilities associated with the Internet DNS root zone management; (3) the allocation of Internet numbering resources; and (4) other services related to the management of the ARPA and INT top-level domains (TLDs).” ARPA is the Advanced Research Projects Agency, the US military-oriented birthplace of the internet.

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