Lawmakers Back Permanent U.S. Involvement with ICANN

With an agreement between the U.S. and ICANN set to expire Sept. 30 and some ICANN members clamoring for independence from the U.S., Reps. Henry Waxman and Rick Boucher call for a permanent deal with the nonprofit organization responsible for managing the assignment of domain names and IP addresses.

Key House leaders Aug. 4 called on Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to create a permanent relationship between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the U.S. government. A Joint Project Agreement between ICANN and the U.S. government is scheduled to expire Sept. 30.
"Rather than replacing the JPA with additional JPAs or Memoranda of Understandings that expire every few years, we believe the time has come for a permanent instrument to which ICANN and the Department of Commerce are co-signatories," House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, D.-Calif., and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher, D-Va., wrote to Locke. "This statement of commitments and principles would ensure that ICANN remains perpetually accountable to the public and to all of its global stakeholders."
Founded in 1998, ICANN is responsible for managing the assignment of domain names and IP addresses. ICANN leaders have claimed the California nonprofit is ready for its independence from the U.S. government. American lawmakers have been just as adamant that the United States retain an interest.
"There is broad consensus among [Committee] members that the substantive ties between ICANN and the Commerce Department should be continued," Waxman and Boucher wrote.
Locke said in May he is giving "serious attention to the critical responsibilities" of his agency's role with respect to ICANN. Locke was responding to a letter from Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, part of the Commerce Department, find a "permanent accountability mechanism to replace the oversight that has historically been provided by the department."