Yesterday, the Niskanen Center filed comments with the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) regarding policy positions for the 2016 World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA). This is an important moment in the Internet governance space, as things have recently been heating up.
A week ago NTIA announced its support for the recently drafted Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) transition plan. At the same time, Sen. Ted Cruz released legislation that would prevent NTIA from allowing the IANA contract to expire, thereby delaying the transition process. As this battle continues to play out, it is important for the U.S. delegates attending this year’s WTSA to ensure the bottom-up, multistakeholder governance process defining this transition remains in tact. To that end, the comments submitted to NTIA address only one of the questions posed by the agency: that is, what role the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), housed in the United Nations ought to play in Internet governance. In short, the comments argue that the ITU fails to provide unique value or insight into the governing mechanisms of the Internet.
As the executive summary discusses:
The ongoing transition of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is an important development in the global governance of the Internet. As the United States government continues reviewing and analyzing the final proposal, it is clear we stand on the precipice of major changes to the global Internet governance landscape. Now, more than ever, it is important for the United States to ensure the ongoing global multistakeholder process that has served this transition so well is not imperiled by the potential for involving intergovernmental bureaucracies like the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in the process. In response to the National Telecommunications Information Administration’s (NTIA) request for comments, we contend that the ITU does not “provide any unique value” to this process.
Read the full comments here.