01 March 2015

Looking back at 2014

It is now two months into 2015 and I have finally found time to reflect a bit on last year.

2014 was an active and interesting year with regular IGF, ICANN and RIR meetings. In Busan ITU organized their Plenipotentiary conference, which only happens every 4 years.  A completely new initiative, the NETMundial, was created, by among others the Brazilian Government. While NETMundial demonstrated an alternative to the traditional multilateral way to International policies, it also left Russia in particular expressing concern with the outcome. China on the other hand have engaged in ICANN and even organized the first World Internet Conference in Wuzhen.

In the numbering community we have seen a growth in the address-transfer market - a natural development in a market with scarcity, but a big change from the collaborative spirit of the early years of the internet, when addresses resources was a common which we shared based on documented need.
The biggest surprise of all was the announcement of the NTIA to finally step out of the contract with ICANN. It is worth looking back at what happened before ICANN was established: the IANA function was run by ISI at USC in California funded by the US Government. When there were uncertainties of the funding, the Numbering community contributed money to keep the IANA running. This was instrumental to get ICANN started. At the same time the Clinton administration was looking for ways to make investments in Internet services more attractive to investors in order to boost the US Economy, and ICANN was created as an “Industry self-regulation" body. It was a clear understanding that the US Government, at some point, would step out of its role. Now 15 years later we were all taken by surprise, not that it would happen, but that it happened right now.
As a result of this we have spent the year discussing "what now?". What do we propose as an alternative to the NTIA contract with ICANN, for the operation of the IANA function? We formed a team: Consolidated RIR IANA Stewardship Proposal Team - CRISP to produce a proposal based on the principles discussed and agreed in the regions.
After creating the proposal trough an open process at the ianaxfer mailing list and open phone-calls. The proposal was reviewed by the community before it was finalized.

You can find the text of the final proposal at the NRO web site.
The very high level of the proposal is quite simply a close to status quo:
  • the numbering community is organized bottom-up: members elect boards that controls each RIR
  • the community at large sets the policies trough open processes - which is already covered by the ASO MOU with ICANN
  • the NTIA contract for operation of the IANA function for numbers will be moved from the NTIA to the RIRs.
This means that ICANN will be providing this service to the RIRs and the community under a bottom-up oversight and accountability mechanisms from the numbering community.
This is in principle very similar to the proposal submitted by the IETF developed by the ianaplan working group. The name community, seems to have much harder job putting together their proposal. The Cross Community Working Group (CWG= to Develop an IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal on Naming Related Functions is still working.
The next step in the process is for the ICG to check the proposals against the request from the NTIA and make sure they are aligned.