Mar 25, 2015

Report on Recent Developments in Internet Domain Name Policy

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has recently completed an intense meeting in Singapore. Many issues of interest to intellectual property rights holders were addressed  and are highlighted below.  

Update on the IANA Transition and 2/25 Senate Hearing 

On February 25, 2015, U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, held a hearing titled “Preserving the Multistakeholder Model of Internet Governance.” At the hearing, witnesses Fadi Chehadé, the ICANN CEO, Lawrence Strickling, the Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and David Gross, the former U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy of the U.S. Department of State, testified on the potential benefits of the transition of IANA functions from NTIA to ICANN and the preparedness of the community to protect Internet governance from attempted interference by foreign governments.

The dominant concern voiced is that the loss of control by the U.S. Government over certain aspects of Internet governance to the private sector could enable authoritarian regimes, such as Russia, Iran, and China – acting through intergovernmental institutions or other surrogates – to hijack or gain undue influence over critical Internet functions. Senator Rubio (R-FL) reiterated that any government-led or an inter-government led solution would be unacceptable, and that some measures of accountability, such as a process for independent review of Board actions, must be in place before the transition occurs. 

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If you have any questions about the issues discussed in this alert, please contact Jim Bikoff, Partner and Head of the Internet Law Practice Group at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.                                                                          

This legal alert is intended to inform clients and other interested parties about legal matters of current interest and is not intended as legal advice. 

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