The US Government has confirmed that ICAAN will continue to control domain names, IP addresses and protocol numbers after their contract was renewed by the US Department of Commerce.
On one hand the renewal comes as no surprise, since ICAAN has been in the hot seat since 1998, and has recently undertaken the processing of applications for the new gTLD system that will bring extensions such as .music, .apple .domain and many more to the web. However, on the other hand, criticism in recent times over key policy decisions; in particular, the processes that make both the .xxx domain and the creation of gTLD “brand” domains appear as extortion set-ups to extract cash from brand owners fearful of having their brands polluted by the adult industry or squatted on by bigger companies, has somewhat scarred the organization’s image and might have been a possible losing card had a competitor mounted a challenge. It hasn’t been confirmed but it has been suggested that no other organization put in an application for contract.
The contract renewal hasn’t been without controversy either. ICAAN’s first application was turned down amidst concern over conflict of interests, namely ICANN’s former chairman Peter Dengate Thrush moving to new gTLD portfolio applicant Top Level Domain Holdings; this move coming shortly after he pushed through approval of the new gTLD programme last June. This further fuels speculation that the gTLD move is almost mafia-like in its approach to line the pockets of big industry players.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced that ICANN’s contract to run the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) would last for three to seven years, and will come into effect on the first day of October; the same day that ICANN’s newly appointed CEO Fadi Chehade takes over the reigns.
For domainers it would have been comforting at least to know the US government considered other applicants, and going forward it would be nice to know the details of the contract in terms of what has been implemented to increase transparency and accountability.