The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Trade, Tourism, and Economic Development has announced a hearing on Internet Governance: The Future of ICANN.
Ted StevensSenatorSenator Smith has been delayed. I would like to thank him for scheduling this hearing on ICANN, and we want to thank the witnesses for coming to participate. We are proud that the Internet was developed with research funding from the Department of Advance Research Projects Agency to establish a military network. Today, the Internet continues to evolve with funds mostly through private investment. One critical part of the Internet is the management of domain names. ICANN is the non-profit corporation responsible for working internationally to protect the elements of the domain nameing system of the Internet and also oversees the distribution of identifiers used in Internet operations. When ICANN was created it was expected to transition to a free standing financially sound organization by the year 2000. The Department of Commerce extended this memorandum of understanding with ICANN several times and the current MOU is set to expire within one month. ICANN’s current system for managing domain names is working, but the feeling is that more needs to be done to improve the process and transparency. We now look forward to the statements of the witnesses today.Questions:Senator Stevens: Mr. Kneuer, I think the 64 billion dollar question is should this agreement be extended? It expires in a month.Mr. Kneuer: And I think the short answer is yes. It should be extended. We conducted a public consultation over the summer. We had more than 700 written comments. We had a public forum at the Department of Commerce where interested stakeholders from governments to private companies to registrars and registries came. I think that consultation reflected broad support for ICANN that the private sector management of the DNS is clearly the appropriate path forward that ICANN is clearly the appropriate vehicle for that private sector management. But I think there were also clear indications that in order for ICANN to be a really lasting and sustainable institution that we need to continue to make more progress on issues of accountability and transparency and the vehicle of the MOU to help them through that process is still appropriate.Senator Stevens: How long has the current agreement been in place?Mr. Kneuer: The current agreement was for 3 years. Historically, we have extended these MOUs periodically from 1 year to 3 years. The 1 year extensions come up quickly, so we made the last one 3 years. I think it would be appropriate, in consultation with ICANN and our review of the record, to come up with an appropriate time period that clearly indicates that we continue to be committed to the transition but, at the same time, provides adequate time for ICANN to make some measurable progress on these issues of transparency and accountability.Senator Stevens: Have you discussed the length of that MOU time frame with your counterparts in other countries?Mr. Kneuer: Not in other countries. This is an agreement between the Department of Commerce and ICANN.Senator Stevens: But doesn’t it have international implications?Mr. Kneuer: It does have international implications, and I speak periodically and fairly regularly with my regulatory counterparts in other places around the world, places that have an interest in this. I think the issue of more governmental involvement in ICANN was an issue that was raised at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia last year, and the clear answer to that was that the continued private sector model was affirmed.Senator Stevens: Well, I’ve had indications from other Senators that when they started to open up and seek a domain name, they found that name had already been reserved by someone else, but it was for sale to them. Have you looked into that?Mr. Kneuer: Not explicitly in that context, but that’s clearly something that we’re happy to work with you on or your staff.Senator Stevens: Mr. Silva, has the FCC gone into that at all?Mr. Silva: Well, I think, for the most part, it’s called domain name tasting and parking, where people may sample a domain name without having to pay, or they just hold it for a certain amount of time even if they don’t use it. They raise some public policy questions for us, because, again, a lot of the fraudsters hide behind temporary internet websites, and so it is a concern. We’ve talked to NTIA about it. We’ve talked to ICANN about it too, and we know that they’re taking this [problem] seriously.Senator Stevens: Well, isn’t it part of identity theft if someone goes and takes my name and registers it as a domain name and then uses that domain name out in the world. Isn’t that identity theft? Why don’t you look at that?Mr. Kneuer: Well, we do, and we’ve brought a number of cases in this area. Technically, identity theft is when they do something bad with your name like steal your credit card informationSenator Stevens: Well, stealing my name is still stealing isn’t it?Mr. Kneuer: Well, I know. It’s a very legitimate public policy concern, and it’s something that we have looked at. We’ve brought a bunch of cases against fishers and identity thieves and other internet malefactors.Senator Stevens: Thank you. Senator Burns?
Witness Panel 1
Mr. John M.R. KneuerActing Assistant Secretary Communications and InformationNational Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
The Honorable Jon LeibowitzCommissionerFederal Trade Commission
Witness Panel 2
Dr. Paul TwomeyPresident and CEOInternet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
Mr. Ken SilvaChief Security OfficerVeriSign
Ms. Christine N. JonesGeneral Counsel and Corporate SecretaryThe Go Daddy Group, Inc.