Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stakeholders approve end to JPA

Cover story of the week:

Eighteen months to the initial scheduled date to the end of Joint Partnership Agreement (JPA) between the United States’ Department of Commerce (DoC) and the global Internet coordinating agency, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), over 100 stakeholders have approved the end of JPA.

This development goes to say that there is no plan for the renewal of JPA once it expires on September 2009 as projected.

This insight was drawn from the overwhelming request made by over 100 stakeholders in the global Internet community recently during the midterm review of JPA to ascertain the extent of which ICANN has implemented the 10-point responsibilities as enshrined in the deal, which the body said it has surpassed thereby making JPA outmoded.

Responding to questions after the deadline for the public comment on the issue, the Executive Officer and Vice President, Corporate Affairs at ICANN, Mr. Paul Levins, said specifically that ICANN position was well received by stakeholders and DOC particularly, given the avalanche of submissions clearly requesting conclusion of the JPA or assumed its conclusion when the agreement terminates 2009.

According to him, many submissions made the point that the JPA should conclude, but after a discussion has taken place.

Some of the groups supporting the conclusion of JPA with their submissions included the Internet Governance Project; Internet Alliance; CENTR; The Government of Canada; International Chamber of Commerce; The United States Council for International Business; Internet Society (ISOC) of Australia; The Government of Latvia amongst others.

Mr. Levins also said that ICANN is working closely with the DOC because they are one of our key partners in this process and they have confirmed their support of the ICANN model.

He also informed that in the next 18 months, ICANN plans to engage the Internet community in a discussion about what to do to confirm the ICANN model of multi-stakeholder coordination when JPA term comes to a close in September 2009.

“ICANN is starting the conversation through its President’s Strategy Committee, which will draw on the submissions to the U.S. government and engage the wider community for its ideas and goals,” he said, adding that this will all take place in a public ICANN process expected to meet in April and also consult at the forthcoming Paris meeting in June.

He emphasised that ICANN goal is that transition locks into the accountabilities and responsibilities the agency already has to its stakeholders and discussing new ones.

The vice president further said that from the submissions to the midterm review, it is clear the transition plan needs to ensure key areas including freedom from capture or dominance of ICANN by governments, intergovernmental organizations, or any other group of stakeholders, including private or corporate interests such as those with whom ICANN has contracts.

Other areas, he said, is to ensure that effective and efficient operations of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions by ICANN as well as accountability of its entire model to the Internet community, including affected parties and continued to work on fine-tuning the security and stability of the Internet’s unique identifiers.

As said by him, ICANN submission during the mid term review pointed out the many improvements it has made in the 10 areas of measurement that were in the JPA.

“But as we stated in our submission, none of these goals should ever be considered completed. In each one of them ICANN can and will always do more. Think about it this way -- is there even a point where you can say ... security and stability are done?” he wondered.

This much was reflected in the submissions themselves from stakeholders.

“Not many comments focused on giving ICANN a rating. Instead, they state that now is the time to discuss how to move to final transition - to an Internet naming and addressing system coordinated by a private sector led multi-stakeholder model of participation,” he declared.

Stressing that submissions were received from every continent representing 56 countries, including 10 from Africa.

“African submissions included support from the Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) operators in Kenya, Burundi, Tunisia, Egypt, and Sudan, as well as ISOCs from Mali and Democratic Republic of Congo, and individuals from other nations,” he said.

Mr. Levins added that a total of 171 written submissions were made to the U.S. Government’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s midterm review of the JPA.

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