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U.S. says to relinquish control of Internet

The U.S. government announced Friday it planned to relinquish its control of a group that manages domain names for the Internet.

The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the U.S. Commerce Department, said in a statement it will transition the functions to the "global multistakeholder community."

Currently, the NTIA functions are performed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) pursuant to a contract that expires Sept. 30, 2015.

The NTIA said as the first step it's asking the ICANN to convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition its current role in the coordination of the Internet's domain name system (DNS).

It said that transitioning the NTIA out of its role marks the final phase of the privatization of the DNS as outlined by the U.S. government in 1997.

"The timing is right to start the transition process," said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Lawrence Strickling. "We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan."

The NTIA said it has communicated to the ICANN that the transition proposal "must have broad community support" and address four principles such as it supports and enhances the multistakeholder model.

It stated that the U.S. government "will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an inter- governmental organization solution."

"From the inception of ICANN, the U.S. Government and Internet stakeholders envisioned that the U.S. role in the IANA functions would be temporary," the NTIA said.

"The U.S. government 'is committed to a transition that will allow the private sector to take leadership for DNS management," it added.

The ICANN welcomed the announcement and said it has launched a process related to the transition.

"We are inviting governments, the private sector, civil society, and other Internet organizations from the whole world to join us in developing this transition process," Fadi Chehade, ICANN's President and CEO, said in a statement. "All stakeholders deserve a voice in the management and governance of this global resource as equal partners."

The ICANN's role as administrator of the Internet's unique identifier system, remain unchanged, the group said, adding it hopes the transition could be complete before the renewal of its contract with the U.S. government in September 2015.

"The global multistakeholder process is defined by inclusion, and it will take some time to make sure that we obtain all of the necessary inputs," said Chehade. "By the time the current contract with the U.S. Government expires in September 2015, we will have a defined and clear process for global multistakeholder stewardship of ICANN's performance of these technical functions."

The first community-wide dialogue about the development of the transitional process will begin March 23-27 during ICANN's 49th Public Meeting, in Singapore, the ICANN added.

[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 14Mar14]

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