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The Honorable Lawrence E. Strickling
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
United States Department of Commerce
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
United States Senate
“Preserving the Multistakeholder Model of Internet Governance”
February 25, 2015
Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson, and members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to testify on behalf of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) regarding NTIA’s role in the Internet’s domain name system and the transition of NTIA’s stewardship over certain technical functions related to the Internet domain name system to the global multistakeholder community. I am pleased to appear before you to update you on the current status of the transition planning process as the global Internet community works to develop a transition proposal that will ensure the stability, security, and openness of the Internet.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is a critical component of the Internet infrastructure. It allows users to identify websites, mail servers, and other Internet destinations using easy-to-understand names (e.g., www.ntia.doc.gov) rather than the numeric network addresses (e.g., 22.214.171.124) necessary to retrieve information on the Internet. In this way, it functions similar to an “address book” for the Internet.
Last week, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) held its 52nd meeting in Singapore, where the global multistakeholder community continued progress on a proposal to transition the United States role related to the Internet Domain Name System.
I was pleased to see the amount of energy and professionalism exhibited by the nearly 1800 participants at the ICANN meeting. The Internet’s stakeholders are driving this transition and are demonstrating that businesses, technical experts, and civil society groups are best equipped to set the future direction of the Internet. Under this multistakeholder model, no one party can control the Internet or impose its will. And that’s what’s enabled the Internet to flourish and evolve into this global medium that has torn down barriers to free speech and fueled economic growth and innovation.
It is so important that we get this transition right. If it doesn’t take place, we will embolden authoritarian regimes to seek greater government control of the Internet or to threaten to fragment the Internet, which would result in a global patchwork of regulations and rules that stifle the free flow of information.
Now that we are nearing the one-year anniversary of our announcement, it is important to take stock of where this transition process stands. Stakeholders have organized two major work streams to develop the overall plan: one group is focused on the specifics of the IANA functions and the second is addressing questions of the overall accountability of ICANN to the global community of Internet stakeholders.