24 March 2004

NRO Comments Concerning ICANN and the World Summit of the Information Society

The Number Resource Organization [NRO] is the coalition of Regional Internet address Registries [RIRs] which operate in the world today. It was formed on 24 October 2003 in Chicago, Illinois, USA, by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the RIRs. The NRO is an organization representing the collective experience of individual RIRs and their communities. While the prime subject of its work are matters of joint interest relating to Internet numbering resources, the NRO provides an efficient interface to other parties interested in these issues. As the Internet continues to evolve, the NRO will ensure continuity of the operational infrastructure of Internet number resource allocation.

The RIRs are responsible for distribution of Internet Number Resources [IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and Autonomous System Numbers]. These number resources are the most fundamental of the identifiers on which the Internet relies: the Internet can operate without domain names; but it cannot operate without numbers. The RIRs have carried the responsibilities associated with managing these critical resources collectively for over 10 years, since well before the start of ICANN. This has been done very effectively through the entire “modern history” of today’s Internet which includes both the “dot com boom” and the “dot com bust”.

The RIRs have participated in the World Summit on the Information Society [WSIS] processes for over a year, including regional Prepcoms and the Summit itself. This is probably longer than any other Internet organization. The RIRs have attended as observers, and as subject matter experts with a genuine aim to assist in debates and discussions around issues related to Internet Number Resources in general and to IP addresses in particular.

The RIRs participated in the WSIS Phase I process as full supporters of ICANN as the model which represents not only the fundamental and critical aspects of Internet development to date, but also the means of community self-regulation to administer and manage Internet Number Resources. It must be understood that this is not given by the RIRs as mere components of ICANN, dependent upon it for support; but rather as independent components of the broader Internet administrative framework which ICANN itself is intended to support.

In the second round of WSIS, the NRO speaking for the collective RIRs will assert an active role vis-à-vis ICANN in order to aid that organization to address the genuine questions that it faces. The principle of these issues within the WSIS context is that of the independence and genuine internationalization of ICANN.

Therefore the NRO calls on ICANN to continue its work in this area, not by building a multinational organization, but rather by including and gaining the genuine support of its significant base of core stakeholders, namely those in the DNS, IP address, and protocol communities. Furthermore, the NRO calls on ICANN to work with the US Government to demonstrate a genuine and unambiguous plan for its independence and to commit to this plan before the conclusion of the second phase of the WSIS.

Finally, the NRO rejects any concept of an alternative Internet administrative model located within any governmental or intergovernmental structure. The NRO acknowledges that there is a valid role for governments in the administration of the Internet but this must be in the context of the current model. There is a need for the continual improvement of the current model of industry self-regulation to the extent that the ultimate solution may look little like today’s ICANN.

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