[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 78 (Friday, April 24, 2009)]
[Notices]
[Pages 18688-18690]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-9409]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

[Docket No. 090420688-9689-01]


Assessment of the Transition of the Technical Coordination and 
Management of the Internet's Domain Name and Addressing System

AGENCY: National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 
U.S. Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of Inquiry.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications 
and Information Administration (NTIA) seeks comment regarding the 
upcoming expiration of the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) with the 
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This 
agreement has been in existence since November 25, 1998, and is 
scheduled to expire on September 30, 2009.

DATES: Comments are due on or before June 8, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted by mail to Fiona M. 
Alexander, Associate Administrator, Office of International Affairs, 
National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. 
Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room 4701, 
Washington, DC 20230. Paper submissions should include a three and one-
half inch computer diskette or compact disc (CD) in HTML, ASCII, Word, 
WordPerfect, rtf, or pdf format (please specify version). Diskettes or 
CDs should be labeled with the name and organizational affiliation of 
the filer and the name of the word processing program used to create 
the document. Alternatively, comments may be submitted electronically 
to DNSTransition@ntia.doc.gov. Comments provided via electronic mail 
also should be submitted in one or more of the formats specified above. 
Comments will be posted to NTIA's website at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/comments/2009/dnstransition.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For questions about this Notice 
contact: Suzanne R. Sene, Office of International Affairs, National 
Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of 
Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room 4701, Washington, DC 
20230, telephone (202) 482-3180; email ssene@ntia.doc.gov. Please 
direct media inquiries to the Office of Public Affairs, NTIA, at (202) 
482-7002.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    A July 1, 1997, Executive Memorandum directed the Secretary of 
Commerce to privatize the Internet's domain name and addressing system 
(DNS) in a manner that increases competition and facilitates 
international participation in its management.\1\ In order to fulfill 
this Presidential directive, the Department of Commerce in June 1998, 
issued a statement of policy on the privatization of the Internet DNS, 
known as the DNS White Paper.\2\ In the DNS White Paper, the Department 
of Commerce articulated, based upon public input, four principles that 
would guide the development of an entity called ``NewCo'' to be 
established by the private sector. These principles were: stability; 
competition; private, bottom-up coordination; and

[[Page 18689]]

representation. In particular, the Department of Commerce committed 
that it would not conclude its role in DNS management if doing so would 
cause instability in the DNS. This process of transitioning to private 
sector leadership these coordination and management functions was 
termed the DNS Project. The DNS White Paper went on to state that, in 
making a decision to enter into an agreement to establish a process to 
transfer current U.S. Government management of DNS to such a new 
entity, the United States would be guided by, and consider, the 
proposed entity's commitment to the principles enumerated above.
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    \1\ Memorandum on Electronic Commerce, 2 Pub. Papers 898 (July 
1, 1997).
    \2\ Management of Internet Names and Addresses, 63 Fed. Reg. 
31,741 (June 10, 1998).
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    To this end, the Department of Commerce stated in the DNS White 
Paper that it was prepared to enter into an agreement with a new not-
for-profit corporation formed by private sector Internet stakeholders. 
Private sector interests, in turn, formed the Internet Corporation for 
Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for this purpose.\3\ In the fall of 
1998, the Department of Commerce entered into a Memorandum of 
Understanding (MOU) with ICANN, a California not-for-profit 
corporation, to transition technical DNS coordination and management 
functions to the private sector.\4\ The MOU does not give the 
Department of Commerce the ability to exercise oversight in the 
traditional context of regulation and the Department of Commerce plays 
no role in the internal governance or day-to-day operations of ICANN.
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    \3\ For more information on the private sector proposals 
received see http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/background.htm.
    \4\ Memorandum of Understanding Between the U.S. Department of 
Commerce and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers 
(Nov. 25, 1998), http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/icann-memorandum.htm.
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    Since 1998, the MOU evolved through several iterations and 
revisions as ICANN tested these principles with the community, learned 
valuable lessons, and matured as an organization. Amendments occurred 
in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002. In 2003, the Department of Commerce 
noted the progress that ICANN had made since its inception. 
Accordingly, the Department of Commerce and ICANN collaboratively 
established more specific milestones to further assist ICANN in meeting 
the objectives of the DNS Project. Both the Department of Commerce and 
ICANN recognized at this stage that ``much work remained for ICANN to 
evolve into an independent, stable, and sustainable DNS management 
organization,'' and the agreement was further amended (through 
September 30, 2006) to allow sufficient time for ICANN to meet these 
milestones' objectives.\5\
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    \5\ Department of Commerce Statement Regarding Extension of 
Memorandum of Understanding with the Internet Corporation for 
Assigned Names and Numbers (Sept. 16, 2003), http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/agreements/sepstatement_09162003.htm.
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    On May 23, 2006, NTIA issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) and 
announced a public consultation on the Continued Transition of the 
Technical Coordination and Management of the Internet DNS.\6\ The 
public consultation resulted in over 700 contributions from 
individuals, private corporations, trade associations, non-governmental 
entities, and governments. The consultation evidenced broad support for 
both continuing the transition and the ongoing involvement of the 
Department of Commerce. On September 29, 2006, the Department of 
Commerce and ICANN signed a JPA extending the MOU.\7\ The JPA expires 
September 30, 2009.\8\
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    \6\ Notice of Inquiry and Public Meeting on the Continued 
Transition of the Technical Coordination and Management of the 
Internet DNS (Nov. 1, 2007), http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/jpamidtermreview.html.
    \7\ All MOU Amendments are available online at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/icann.htm.
    \8\ Joint Project Agreement Between the U.S. Department of 
Commerce and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and 
Numbers, Amendment 7, http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/agreements/jpa/ICANNJPA_09292006.htm.
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    The JPA called for a midpoint review of ICANN's progress towards 
becoming an organization with greater transparency and accountability 
in its procedures and decision making. NTIA conducted this review by 
releasing an NOI on November 2, 2007, and conducting a public meeting 
on February 28, 2008.\9\ This review process revealed that, while some 
progress had been made, there remained key areas where further work was 
required to increase institutional confidence in ICANN.\10\ 
Specifically, these included long-term stability, accountability, 
responsiveness, continued private sector leadership, stakeholder 
participation, increased contract compliance, and enhanced competition. 
ICANN has stated publicly on several occasions since this midpoint 
review, most recently on March 2, 2009, that the JPA will conclude 
September 30, 2009.\11\
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    \9\ Notice of Inquiry and comments received are available online 
at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/jpamidtermreview.html.
    \10\ NTIA Statement on the Mid-Term Review of the Joint Project 
Agreement (JPA) Between NTIA and ICANN, http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/ICANN_JPA_080402.html.
    \11\ See e.g., Paul Twomey, CEO and President, ICANN, Statement 
Given at the Welcome Ceremony, 34th ICANN Conference, Mexico City, 
(Mar. 2, 2009), http://mex.icann.org/files/meetings/mexico2009/transcript-opening-ceremony-02mar09-en.txt; Internet Corporation for 
Assigned Names and Numbers, 2008 Annual Report (Dec. 31, 2008), at 
21, http://www.icann.org/en/annualreport/annual-report-2008-en.pdf.
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REQUEST FOR COMMENT:

    Given the upcoming expiration of the current JPA between the 
Department of Commerce and ICANN, NTIA seeks comments regarding the 
progress of the transition of the technical coordination and management 
of the Internet DNS to the private sector, as well as the model of 
private sector leadership and bottom-up policy development which ICANN 
represents.
    The questions below are intended to assist in identifying the 
issues and should not be construed as a limitation on comments that may 
be submitted. Comments that contain references, studies, research, and 
other empirical data that are not widely published should include 
copies of the referenced materials with the submitted comments.
    1. The DNS White Paper articulated four principles (i.e., 
stability; competition; private, bottom-up coordination; and 
representation) necessary for guiding the transition to private sector 
management of the DNS. Are these still the appropriate principles? If 
so, have these core principles been effectively integrated into ICANN's 
existing processes and structures?
    2. The goal of the JPA process has been to transition the 
coordination of DNS responsibilities, previously performed by the U.S. 
Government or on behalf of the U.S. Government, to the private sector 
so as to enable industry leadership and bottom-up policy making. Is 
this still the most appropriate model to increase competition and 
facilitate international participation in the coordination and 
management of the DNS, bearing in mind the need to maintain the 
security and stability of the DNS? If yes, are the processes and 
structures currently in place at ICANN sufficient to enable industry 
leadership and bottom-up policy making? If not, what is the most 
appropriate model, keeping in mind the need to ensure the stability and 
security of the Internet DNS?
    3. The original agreement and the first six amendments to the JPA 
contained a series of core tasks, and in some cases, date-specific 
milestones. Have these tasks been accomplished and have these 
milestones been met? If not, what remains and what steps should be 
taken to successfully address them?
    4. In 2006, the focus on specific milestones was adjusted to a 
series of

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broad commitments endorsed by the ICANN Board as an annex to the JPA. 
Specifically, ICANN committed to take action on the responsibilities 
set out in the Affirmation of Responsibilities established in ICANN 
Board Resolution 06.71, dated September 25, 2006.\12\ Those 
responsibilities included activities in the following categories: 
security and stability, transparency, accountability, root server 
security and relationships, TLD management, multi-stakeholder model, 
role of governments, IP addressing, corporate responsibility, and 
corporate administrative structure. What steps has ICANN taken to meet 
each of these responsibilities? Have these steps been successful? If 
not, what more could be done to meet the needs of the community served 
in these areas?
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    \12\ Joint Project Agreement Between the U.S. Department of 
Commerce and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and 
Numbers, Amendment 7, http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/agreements/jpa/ICANNJPA_09292006.htm.
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    5. The current JPA called for NTIA to conduct a mid-term review. 
That review revealed that ICANN needed to take further steps to 
increase institutional confidence related to long-term stability, 
accountability, responsiveness, continued private sector leadership, 
stakeholder participation, increased contract compliance, and enhanced 
competition. What steps has ICANN taken to address the concerns 
expressed in the mid-term review process? Have these steps been 
successful? If not, what more could be done to meet the needs of the 
community served in these areas?
    6. The JPA between the Department of Commerce and ICANN is an 
agreement by mutual consent to effectuate the transition of the 
technical coordination and management of the Internet DNS in a manner 
that ensures the continued stability and security of the Internet DNS. 
Has sufficient progress been achieved for the transition to take place 
by September 30, 2009? If not, what should be done? What criteria 
should be used to make that determination?
    7. Given the upcoming expiration of the JPA, are there sufficient 
safeguards in place to ensure the continued security and stability of 
the Internet DNS, private sector leadership, and that all stakeholder 
interests are adequately taken into account? If yes, what are they? Are 
these safeguards mature and robust enough to ensure protection of 
stakeholder interests and the model itself in the future? If no, what 
additional safeguards should be put in place?
    8. The JPA provides that before its termination, NTIA and ICANN are 
to collaborate on a DNS Project Report that will document ICANN's 
policies and procedures designed and developed pursuant to the 
agreement. What should be included in this report?

EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS:

    Any oral presentation to NTIA regarding the substance of this 
proceeding will be considered an ex parte presentation, and the 
substance of the meeting will be placed on the public record and become 
a part of this docket. No later than two (2) business days after an 
oral presentation or meeting, an interested party must submit a 
memorandum to NTIA, which summarizes the substance of the 
communication. Any written presentations provided in support of the 
oral communication or meeting will also be placed on the public record 
and become a part of this docket. Such ex parte communications must be 
submitted to DNSTransition@ntia.doc.gov in one of the above listed 
formats and clearly labeled as an ex parte presentation. All ex parte 
documents will be posted at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/comments/2009/dnstransition.

    Dated: April 20, 2009.
Anna M. Gomez,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information 
Administration.
[FR Doc. E9-9409 Filed 4-23-09; 8:45 am]
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