ICANN awarded net adminstration until 2011

US government issues IANA contract


The US government has awarded net overseeing organisation ICANN the contract to administer changes at the top of the internet until 2011.

The contract covers what is commonly referred to as the IANA function, a traditional bundle of technical operations that includes the allocation of IP addresses, management of the internet root server system, and changes to the top tree of the net, defining where all top-level domains - including global domains such as .com and .net as well as the 250 country code domains such as .uk for Great Britain or .de for Germany - are located on the internet.

The decision was widely expected and the contract itself is largely a copy of the previous contract ICANN was first awarded back in 2000.

The contract lasts for five years but requires renewal each year. This approach has meant the US government can maintain a close control over changes, while also ensuring the function is revisited and refreshed over time.

The US government arm that decides the contract, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), made noises about moving the contract to a different party in a "request for information" in February, but it was largely seen as a way of applying pressure to ICANN to improve its frequently criticised procedures. ICANN relies heavily on its stewardship of the IANA function to provide it with global legitimacy.

That pressure appears to have produced results. ICANN announced in July that it would start implementing a secure and automated way for the technical administrators of top-level domains to make vital infrastructural changes.

A large number of country-code managers have been asking for such a system for years, and a test-bed offering such a facility has been in operation for over two years. The contract also details a new, visible method for any changes that take more than seven days in an effort to improve efficiency of the process.

But perhaps the most important change to the contract has been the inclusion of wording that makes it clear that there is a separation between IANA function and the policy role that ICANN plays - a connection that ICANN has actively sought to blur to the vocal irritation of others.

Nonetheless, the contract secures ICANN's future and potentially stabilises a contentious issue at the heart of the internet.

ICANN CEO Paul Twomey was, naturally, pleased with the announcement. "In executing this contract the Department of Commerce has confirmed that ICANN is uniquely positioned to perform this function.

"It means that ICANN remains the organisation responsible for a range of functions that are vital to the daily operation of the Domain Name System (DNS) and, hence, the internet."

The decision was also welcomed by one of the organisations most vocal about their concerns over IANA.

Chairman of the Council of European National Top-Level Domain Registries (CENTR), which represents 52 mostly European top-level domains, Paul Kane, told us: "The process undertaken by the NTIA clearly distinguishes and seperates the IANA service contract to the global community, from that of ICANN's general remit as the open forum for discussing Internet coordination issues.

"We welcome NTIA's selection of ICANN as the IANA contractor and all registries participating in the Internet Infrastructure Improvement Fund have have agreed to donate $190,000 to ICANN to ensure improvements in the IANA service."

The supply of funds to ICANN indicates yet another thawing in difficult relationships that ICANN, a non-profit US company, has had with organisations outside of the United States.

However, the most crucial contract renewal will come on 30 September when the US government reviews its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ICANN.

At the end of July, the US government made it clear that it would transition its overseeing role over the internet and ICANN to a more international body. The details and the timeline for that transition remain a mystery, however, and are expected to be outlined in the MoU at the end of next month.

Related links

NTIA announced contract
ICANN announces contract
The IANA contract 2006-2011 [pdf]


Keep Reading

FYI: Someone wants to launch mobile broadband satellites into space used by scientific craft – and NASA's not happy

Updated Choo choo! Mind the incoming 'A-train' orbital spacecraft

ICANN't approve the sale of .org to private equity – because California's Attorney General has... concerns

DNS overseer gets letter demanding documents about controversial registry sale

ICANN begs Europe: Please fill in the blanks on this half-assed GDPR-compliant Whois we came up with

We can’t get our community to agree, perhaps you’ll do our job for us?

Cisco’s 'intuitive security' tool can’t handle MAC address randomization out-of-the-box

iOS 14's new MAC scrambling could stop upgraded devices from connecting, Android 10 also a mess

Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of 'Advanced Night Repair' skin cream helping NASA to commercialise space

Estée Lauder’s pricey goop gets seat on next ISS resupply mission as Japanese companies pledge zero-G cosmetics

ICANN's founding CEO and chair accuse biz of abandoning principles in push for billion-dollar .org sale

Exclusive Damning letter sent to California attorney general asks for six-month delay

Tired: Cheap space launch outfits. Wired: Software-and-data-as-a-service for cheap space launch outfits

Japan’s iSpace has put itself in the second column but also plans lunar landers of its own

Three middle-aged Dutch hackers slipped into Donald Trump's Twitter account days before 2016 US election

The Orange One was using a password breached four years previously

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020