On September 30, 2009, the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) that bound the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to the US Department of Commerce ended. On October 1, ICANN published an Affirmation of Commitments, taking the place of the JPA. This document completes the transition of management of the Internet domain name and addressing system (DNS) from the US government to the private sector and sets the tone for debates about institutional reforms required to reinforce ICANN’s multistakeholder characteristics and accountability.
While the great majority see the end of a unilateral ascendancy of the US over the organization as something positive, there are doubts about how this change will impact other Internet constituencies. Some believe this is a significant and positive step towards the democratization and internationalization of control over the DNS, others foresee some negative outcomes. The suggest that ICANN could lose in terms of efficiency and be “captured” by commercial interests.
Will the end of the JPA impact ICANN procedural mechanisms significantly? Will it improve the policy-making process? Will it increase transparency and accountability? Will the organization be more aligned with the global public interest? Will multistakeholderism be reinforced, or will the interests of the strongest predominate?
Join this timely and provocative debate!