CDT Comments to NTIA regarding The Continued Transition of the Technical Coordination and Management of the Internet's Domain Name and Addressing System: Midterm Review of the Joint Project Agreement
CDT strongly supports the goal of a fully independent ICANN, and we applaud the steps ICANN has taken to become more transparent, but it is premature to end the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) between ICANN and the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) at this time.
The JPA serves as a valuable check on ICANN and an important guarantor that ICANN will continue to maintain and improve its transparency, accountability and adherence to the bottom-up, multi-stakeholder model. Far from interfering with the privatized, internationalized management of the DNS that is at the core of the ICANN concept, the JPA helps to ensure the integrity of ICANN’s processes. Ending the JPA (and the possibly more important contract regarding the root file) cannot be tied to some end point of the responsibilities in the JPA because there is no end point to those responsibilities. ICANN acknowledges in its response to this mid-term review that the responsibilities in the JPA are “a never-ending pursuit” and that there will always be more to be done on all 10 responsibilities. We are not advocating endless renewal of the JPA but, for now, it remains a major source of assurance that ICANN will continue to meet those responsibilities.