U.S. government should not reverse course on internet governance transition

Documents disclosed in late January suggest that, in order to move his nomination forward, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) head David Redl promised Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) that he would assemble a “panel of experts to investigate options for unwinding” the 2016 Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) transition. Sen Cruz had held up Redl’s nomination for months because he was displeased with Redl’s answers regarding the transfer of IANA stewardship from the NTIA to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit, multi-stakeholder, internet governance organization. That transition was the right move at the time and remains so today. Any experts worth their salt would tell Redl that attempting to reverse the transition is as futile as it is unwise. Even if the transition could be undone, doing so would not be in the in the interests of the U.S.

Of course, it might be that NTIA administrator Redl’s promised “panel of experts” was a political ploy. It may never materialize or, if it does, it may return a verdict consistent with his original answer at the confirmation hearing, that “it’s very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.” Either way, both Redl and Sen Cruz should look ahead to address real internet governance threats from authoritarian governments, like an expanded role for the International Telecommunication Union and ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee, rather than trying to undo the privatization of the IANA functions.


U.S. government should not reverse course on internet governance transition