No one group should govern Internet, says Turnbull

ITU won't try to take over, pledges the group's likely next secretary general.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull addresses APNIC 38 in Brisbane.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull addresses APNIC 38 in Brisbane.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has urged world leaders to maintain a multi-stakeholder model for governance of the Internet as the United States releases its stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

"The Internet community -- the unfortunately and clumsily named multi-stakeholder system -- has created, maintained and developed the Internet," Turnbull said in a keynote at APNIC 38 in Brisbane, hosted by the Asia Pacific Network Information Center.

"It should be trusted to continue to do so."

Houlin Zhao, who is the only candidate to be the next secretary general of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) agreed with Turnbull that a multi-stakeholder model is the best approach for Internet governance. He pledged that the ITU would not try to take over Internet governance.

If elected on 23 October this year, Zhao will "work together with all stakeholders ... on the future development of Internet services," he said.

The IANA stewardship transition will result in an end to the US government's role in overseeing the Domain Name Service (DNS).

Earlier this year, the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced it would end its role in the DNS.

Currently the NTIA administers the authoritative Root Zone file. ICANN's IANA, which manages the Root Zone and Internet IP address allocation, operates under contract to the US Department of Commerce. The IANA functions contract will expire in September 2015.

Turnbull said a lack of governance has resulted in the Internet's freedom and influence. Governance should not be in the hands of any one group, he said.

However, some see the IANA transition as an opportunity to increase their power, he said.

"We do not want to replace the US government's oversight role with a new and overly burdensome administrative body. We should also consider very carefully any proposals that recommend new arrangements where none currently exist and equally where there's no apparent need."

Turnbull said no major changes are needed to the numbering and protocol roles of the IANA, areas in which the US has no specific role under the current framework.

However, IANA's role in naming "does require more thought, particularly because the sensitivities about the role of governments and the management of their country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs)," he said.

"In effect, there is currently no commonly agreed policy for handling requests to delegate or re-delegate a ccTLD. This means that IANA could make these kinds of decisions without any clear policy to guide its action."

Two Australians are serving on the international group overseeing the IANA transition. They are Paul Wilson, APNIC general director, and Narelle Clark, the former president of the Internet Society of Australia.

Adam Bender travelled to Brisbane as a guest of APNIC.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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