International conversation has shifted since the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) announced it would relinquish its oversight of  Internet address functions. That was one of the conclusions Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy presented at the Hudson Institute’s panel discussion entitled: “The Future of Internet Governance: A Discussion with ICANN’s CEO, the Head of the NTIA, and More”.

According to Ambassador Sepulveda, the NTIA’s decision has brought focus to the multistakeholder model of Internet governance, and trends are moving towards global involvement and global embrace of such a model – a promising sign when just months ago many were considering whether a multilateral model led by national governments may be a better alternative. There is an understanding now, he noted, that America is open and committed to the multistakeholder system, and that is driving the positive attitude in the international community.

Other panelists at this event included ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade; NTIA Assistant Secretary Larry Strickling; and former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Robert McDowell.

Mr. McDowell expressed concern about the potential for the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) within ICANN to move away from a consensus-model to a majority vote-model, thereby making it easier for some regimes to push through outcomes less protective of online freedoms. The other panelists also acknowledged this concern, but Mr. Strickling and Mr. Chehade were particularly adamant that the multistakeholder model would not allow for the chipping away of online freedom.

Mr. Chehade noted that ICANN has to “get this [transition] right. We will move in a very calm and judicious way with the community through the process.” Any proposal that falls short will be “dead on arrival – as it should be.”

Josh Bourne
Discussions in DC: Hudson Institute

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