NTIA Extends Domain Name Contract

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration has told Congress that it plans to extend its contract oversee what it calls the "technical functions" of the IANA Internet domain naming regime is being extended a year through Sept. 30, 2016, and could extend it by another three years if necessary.

That is according to NTIA administrator Lawrence Strickling.

The groups working on the plan to transition oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) IANA functions from the U.S. to a multistakeholder model, had signaled it would not be ready with that plan in time for the Sept. 30, 2015 expiration of the contract.

"After factoring in time for public comment, U.S. Government evaluation and implementation of the proposals," Strickling blogged, it became clear from the groups that "it could take until at least September 2016 to complete this process. In response to their feedback, we informed Congress on Friday that we plan to extend our IANA contract with ICANN for one year to September 30, 2016. Beyond 2016, we have options to extend the contract for up to three additional years if needed."

IANA is seeking comment on the transition process and Strickling encouraged stakeholders to weigh in.

Strickling has assured legislators concerned over giving up the U.S. role in the IANA oversight that Congress will get to vet the domain-name handoff.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) commented on the news, calling it "an important step.

“This is an important step," they said in a statement. "The administration is recognizing, as it should, that it is more important to get this issue right than it is to simply get it done. A key component of the bipartisan DOTCOM Act [Shimkus was a major force behind the bill], which was overwhelmingly approved by the House, is to ensure Congressional oversight and provide concrete accountability and transparency measures for the transition. By extending the United States’ role in these functions, we are creating an environment for ongoing dialogue and decision making instead of a rush to meet artificial deadlines. We appreciate the administration’s efforts and look forward to working with them, and the global Internet community, to get this done right.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.