The Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) are an interested and affected party of the IANA contract because IANA holds ultimate responsibility for allocated and unallocated IPv4, IPv6 and Autonomous System Number address spaces.
IANA delegates IP and ASN address blocks to the RIRs according to their need, in line with global policies agreed by all the RIR communities. The “global policy development process” is described in the ICANN Address Supporting Organization (ASO) memorandum of understanding. ICANN and the Number Resource Organization (NRO) signed this MoU in 2004. The NRO fulfills the role, responsibilities and functions of the ASO as defined within the ICANN Bylaws.
In addition to the ASO MoU, in 2007, ICANN and the NRO exchanged letters to clarify roles and affirm responsibilities. These commitments and responsibilities were reconfirmed in a new exchange of letters in 2009 (NRO to ICANN – March 2009; ICANN to NRO – April 2009).
The NRO has made a number of statements advocating for an end to the historical role of the U.S. government with regards to ICANN and supporting full privatization of the IANA functions.
In 2006, the NRO submitted comments to the NTIA as part of a public consultation for the transition of the management of the DNS to the private sector. The NRO stated, “ICANN’s execution of the IANA function has been critical in supporting the RIRs’ mission of distributing Internet Protocol (IP) addresses”. It also said that, “no single government should have a special role in the management of Internet Number Resources.”
In 2007, the NRO contributed to a midterm review of the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) between the NTIA and ICANN. In this contribution, the NRO called for the conclusion of the JPA and called for a comprehensive transition of Internet coordination to the private sector. The NRO stated, “current mechanisms must not be replaced by accountability to any other government, group of governments, or treaty organization.”
In 2009, the NTIA sought public comments as the expiration date of the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) was approaching. The NRO commented that, “the continued role of United States Government monitoring and input into ICANN’s operation is no longer necessary.” The NRO reaffirmed its commitment, “to continue to work closely with ICANN through the ASO MoU and other agreements, to ensure and safeguard the bottom-up policy development process.” Finally, the NRO said, “with the termination of the JPA, these agreements will remain in place, and their parties will continue to honor their tenets.”
In 2011, the Chair of the NRO sent a letter to the CEO of ICANN, asking ICANN to take concrete steps to “end the ‘overseer’ role of IANA by the U.S. DoC.” In this letter, the NRO suggested that ICANN should negotiate “a staged reduction of the level of DoC’s oversight to IANA. This process could possibly involve a transition from a contract to a cooperation agreement, and ultimately arrival at a non-binding arrangement, such as an affirmation of commitments.”
In 2011, the NRO submitted comments to the NTIA about the IANA contract. It stated, “the Internet technical community is quite capable of directly working in partnership with ICANN so as to provide oversight of the policy development organizations as well as the provision of the related technical functions.”
In October 2013, the leaders of different Internet coordinating bodies, published a statement, known as the “Montevideo Statement“, which addressed key issues affecting the future of the Internet, including IANA. This statement called for, “accelerating the globalization of ICANN and the IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing.”
In March 2014, the NTIA announced its intent to step away from its historical stewardship role regarding IANA and complete a long-envisaged transition to the private sector. In this announcement, the NTIA asked ICANN to develop a transition plan with broad support of its multistakeholder community. In April 2014, ICANN opened a call for inputs to set up the process to develop this plan. In May 2014 the NRO replied to this call and suggested, along other organizations such as Internet Architecture Board (IAB), that each of the three communities with an interest in the IANA functions —namely protocol parameters, domain names and IP addresses— should produce their respective transition plans.
In June 2014, an “IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group” (ICG), comprised of 30 individuals representing 13 communities, was established to coordinate the development of a proposal to the NTIA. The ICG will compile inputs from all interested and affected parties into a single transition plan. The final transition plan is expected to be proposed to the NTIA before the IANA contract expires in September 2015.
In the case of the IP addressing community, the NRO is expected to coordinate input from the five regional IP addressing communities to develop a transition plan. The ICG will compile all inputs into a single transition plan, which will be proposed to the U.S. government before the IANA contract expires in September 2015.
In parallel to the work of the ICG and in response to community feedback, a process for enhancing ICANN’s accountability was also established. The process suggests the formation of a Cross Community Group and a Coordination Group, to lead community discussions on strengthening accountability mechanisms to address the absence of the historical contractual relationship with the U.S. government.