[discuss] A Summary of IANA Oversight Transition Tasks and Issues

Shatan, Gregory S. GShatan at ReedSmith.com
Tue Apr 1 02:34:22 UTC 2014

While responding to a post on another topic in another forum, I ended up sketching out a summary list of tasks and issues involved in the transition of the IANA oversight function away from the NTIA.  I thought it would be worth putting in its own email here for consideration.

The IANA oversight transition involves minimally:

-- NTIA relinquishing its oversight role

-- the creation of a new multistakeholder mechanism or process to replace that oversight role

-- no material change in IANA-within-ICANN's performance of the IANA function

-- possible material change in the role of Verisign or its successor in the RZM function

Necessary linked issues include:

-- Adequately understanding what the IANA functions are, what NTIA's duties are, and what other bodies are involved in either input or output to/from the performance of the IANA functions

-- Designing the process by which the (post-transition) end-state will be designed (our first assignment from the NTIA, though skipping the above step is already causing much inaccurate discussion )

-- Designing the end-state of the transition and the process of getting from "here" to "there"

-- Defining what "oversight" (and its corollary, "accountability") means in this context -- of whom, by whom, of what, for what purpose

-- Determining how the stakeholders are going to be identified, categorized, engaged and express themselves (including stakeholders tending to be less "present" in ICANN or IG generally)

-- Designing the methodology of oversight

-- Replacing NTIA's "authorization" function (the only practical thing NTIA does nowadays, as I understand it)

-- Defining standards for the oversight process/mechanism to refer to

-- Defining consequences for failure by IANA-within-ICANN to meet those standards

-- Identifying a methodology for improvement of IANA-within-ICANN if standards are not met

-- Determining whether the end result will be (and will be perceived to be) fair and worthy of trust (and what to do if it isn't)

-- Who (i.e., what actual humans) will be doing all the heavy lifting to get from here to there, and who will do the heavy lifting at the "end-state" (keeping in mind, e.g., complaints at ICANN of MS volunteer burn-out and overload)

Further linked issues (which may, but don't need to be, reached) include:

-- Whether the mechanism or process should be in a separate body, and the relationship of that body to ICANN

-- Whether there is sufficient separation between IANA-within-ICANN and the rest of ICANN

-- Whether accountability and transparency within ICANN needs to be improved, especially if ICANN "A&T" process/methods will be used in the new oversight function

-- Whether any of this relates to concerns of mass surveillance (and if so, how, and what it means to the answers to some of the necessary questions)

Beyond that are the more inventive re-imaginings of IANA functions and oversight, such as removing IANA itself from ICANN and making it a stand-alone body (e.g., the "DNSA" proposal), which could make ICANN-without-IANA the overseer of this new IANA-without-ICANN, and other ideas that the NTIA would probably find "out of scope."

Beyond even that are the wholly unrelated, "let's change what we don't like about ICANN," "let's remake some or all of ICANN" and "let's blow up ICANN and start again" ideas.  All great fodder for IG-theorizing and even future activity, but not when we have such a significant project as that outlined above already on our hands.

A similar exercise could be done for the transition of the Affirmation of Commitments from a US-ICANN document to a multiparty document (which might itself change significantly or be replaced).

Greg Shatan

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