Oct 012016

“Today, after months of preparation and implementation of the community’s tasks, ICANN’s contract with NTIA expired. As a result, the coordination and management of the Internet’s unique identifiers is now privatized and in the hands of the volunteer-based multistakeholder community.”

These 2 sentences published today, October 1, 2016, by ICANN Board Chair Steve Crocker, have an air of history-in-the-making about them.

For the first time since it was created in 1998 to oversea the Internet’s naming (domain names and Top Level Domains) and addressing (IP addresses) functions, ICANN no longer has a direct contract with one government. The United States no longer have veto power over the way Top Level Domains such as .SKI (generic) or .EU (country code) are launched on the Internet.

As it prepared for the end of US control, the ICANN community has created a new structure called the Empowered Community. This is now formally defined in ICANN’s new bylaws and aims to give the multistakeholder community – i.e. the various interest groups tasked with representing the full spectrum of Internet users from the industry itself to academia and the technical experts – enhanced powers of oversight over the way ICANN operates.

This includes the ability to revoke its Board or to reject ICANN’s budget.

These are major developments in the way ICANN is going to function. “These changes, while vitally important for the relationships and management of ICANN, will have no visible effect on the operation of the Internet,” Crocker added. “The very large ecosystem of Internet System Providers, content providers and users will continue to function without change.”

There is one major change of note: ICANN is now an organization that answers to the world!