US to continue oversight of ICANN till September next year

The US plans to continue to exercise oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the coordinator of the Internet's domain name system, through September next year, and possibly even beyond.

The internet global multi-stakeholder community needed time to complete its work, have the plan reviewed by the US government and then put it into action if approved, according to the US Department of Commerce.

According to the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)'s statement in March last year, it planned to allow its contract with ICANN to operate key domain-name functions expire in September 2015, and to pass on oversight of the agency to a global governance model.

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, operated by ICANN under contract with the Department of Commerce, coordinated the DNS (Domain Name System) root, IP addressing, and other Internet protocol resources.

The groups developing the transition documents told the department that it would take at least September, next year, according to Lawrence Strickling, NTIA administrator and assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information in a blog post yesterday.

Since 1998 the United States has contracted out, through the Commerce Department, the management of the master database for top-level domain names like .com and .net and their corresponding numeric addresses to ICANN.

The Commerce Department had long expected to phase out its oversight and had planned to end of the current ICANN contract in September.

According to Strickling, the department on Friday notified Congress that it planned to extend the contract with ICANN until 30 September, 2016.

"It has become increasingly apparent over the last few months that the community needs time to complete its work, have the plan reviewed by the U.S. government and then implement it if it is approved," Strickling wrote.

He further added, there were options to extend the contract by up to three more years, if needed.

A number of Republican lawmakers had raised concerns about the plan to hand over the stewardship of the ICANN to a global multi-stakeholder body, as they feared it might not allow foreign governments that do not adhere to principles of free speech to influence the body.