Could Trump Rewind the Transfer of the IANA Function?

Robert J. Kenney for World Trademark Review

Donald Trump was a vocal critic of the transfer of internet governance functions to ICANN in September 2016. What action is he likely to take now that he is president?

Until its contract with the US National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) was allowed to lapse on October 1, 2016 by the Obama administration, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was responsible - in cooperation with the NTIA - for managing the assignment of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to domain names - known as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). Under this contract, ICANN reviewed a proposed domain name and assigned it a numerical IP address - referred to as the Domain Naming System (DNS). The NTIA then reviewed the proposed name and address and authorised Verizon to post the address to the authoritative server which operates as the master file for all IP addresses. The address is replicated on the various root zone servers around the world each day and the domain name then become operational online.

With the lapse of the NTIA_ICANN contract, US government review of the proposed domain name and IP address shifted to ICANN solely, whose multiple stake holders include academics, representatives of businesses and governments, and technical experts from around the world. While oversight by the NTIA was always intended to be temporary, critics of the transfer argued that shifting review responsibility in this way could lead to an increase in internet censorship in authoritarian countries, presumably because the overseer of the integrity of the DNS - namely, ICANN - accepts stakeholders from such authoritarian regimes.

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