Australia endorses US withdrawal from internet control

The Australian government has welcomed the US government's decision to scale back its oversight of ICANN.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has welcomed the US' move to relinquish control of administration of domain names to a more global body.

Over the weekend, the US government announced that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) would help transition the control of the remaining administration of DNS and top-level domains from the US to a global multi-stakeholder body, with a dialogue on the transition process set to commence later this month.

"We are inviting governments, the private sector, civil society, and other internet organisations from the whole world to join us in developing this transition process," Fadi Chehadé, ICANN's president and CEO, said in a statement. "All stakeholders deserve a voice in the management and governance of this global resource as equal partners."

While reaction in the US was mixed, with US Republicans and Fox News hosts labelling the move as a "surrender" to foreign countries, Turnbull said it was a "momentous day in the history of the internet."

Turnbull said in a blog post that he had been discussing the move with the US Department of Commerce, and said that there were clear conditions that the transition must be to a multi-stakeholder model that does not replace the US government with another government or multi-government organisation like the ITU or the UN.

Turnbull said the Australian government supports this approach.

"The internet is the most remarkable invention of our times and while it had its origins in research contracts with the US government its growth, its dynamism, its resilience have all been the result of collaborative efforts by the wide internet community not government regulation or fiat," he said.

"There is a lot of work to do to support ICANN in transitioning to a new model, and the Australian government, committed as it is to a multi-stakeholder system of governance, will work with the Australian and global internet community including other governments to ensure that the internet remains free, stable and resilient and continues to be a powerful platform for freedom around the world."

AuDA (.au Domain Administration), the manager of the .au domain also welcomed the US government's announcement, and the rules established around the transition to the multi-stakeholder model.

"We ... agree that broad community engagement is required in developing a transition plan and support the key principles of openness, multi-stakerholderism, security and stability, and customer focus stipulated by [National Telecommunications and Information Administration]," auDA CEO and ICANN board director Chris Disspain said in a statement.

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