Over the weekend, despite the misconceptions of some politicians and their followers, the US government let the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) contract lapse, and non-profit organization ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) will now ensure independence in the operation of maintaining DNS core files, ensuring internet device addresses work globally and cataloging details of protocols that define how internet communications take place.
What the IANA and ICANN transition means (and doesn’t mean)
ICANN has explained that this transition will ensure the internet of tomorrow remains as free, open and accessible as the internet of today. Although some US politicians (Senator Ted Cruz) mistakenly believe that autocratic governments from China, Russia and the Middle East could somehow take control over the Internet and censor content, ICANN has explained that this will not happen because “ICANN is a technical organization and does not have the remit or ability to regulate content on the internet”. ICANN policy is decided by ‘multi-stakeholderism’ where all interested parties, from governments to engineers to corporations to domain name owners, can have a say.
“The IANA ( Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) transition marks an important milestone in Internet Governance, and as Internet usage is expected to touch 4 billion by the end of 2016, creates the foundation for ‘multi-stakeholderism’ in keeping with the Internet Society’s mission of Internet for everyone” – Indranil Mukherjee, Vice-President, Internet Society Singapore Chapter
One fact remains the same: “There is nothing about ICANN or its contract with the US government that prevents a country from censoring or blocking content within its own borders” However, the structure of the internet means that (for example) China cannot block the content within the USA’s borders.
Singapore’s role in the IANA transition
The Internet Society Singapore Chapter was part of this transition, as coordinator of the secretariat.
“It’s not a well-known story but Singapore has played a supporting role in the IANA. The last Forum on the White Paper (FWP), the final meeting of the Internet community in its attempt at Internet governance was held here; and so was the first ICANN meeting. ISOC.SG’s role as Secretariat in the Transition deliberations completes the process. It’s wonderful to know that we have contributed a universal good.” – Prof Ang Peng Hwa, Past President, Internet Society Singapore Chapter
“This marks an important step into a greater level of participation in the Internet and with greater power, comes greater responsibility. The ISOC Singapore chapter is proud to have played a role on coordinating the secretariat for this process.” – Bryan Tan, President, Internet Society Singapore Chapter
The Future of Internet Governance
The global headquarters of the Internet Society has congratulated global the Internet community on successful IANA stewardship transition. In particular, the Internet Society endorses that the “best approach to address challenges is through bottom-up, transparent, and consensus-driven processes”.
“It is very satisfying to be able to see the successful conclusion of the transition of IANA stewardship. IANA has a long and wonderful heritage and the critical functioning of the role is important for the Internet to continue to bring the value to all of us.”, Harish Pillay, Board of Trustees, Internet Society.
While it is disconcerting that some politicians today might base their actions on a fundamental misunderstanding of the issues involved in Internet Governance, we hope that more members of the public in every country, their elected officials, and policy makers, will take some time to learn what is actually happening in the IANA transition and ICANN. We recommend you read these reputable news sources