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DOC Rejects ICANN Bid for IANA Function Oversight, Cancels RFP and Extends Current Agreement for Short 6-Month Period

New York, NY - March 12, 2012 - The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the division of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) that oversees operation of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), has rejected ICANN's bid to continue overseeing the IANA functions of the Internet, instead extending ICANN's current contract for a short six-month period.  Simultaneously, NTIA stated, "we are cancelling this RFP because we received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community."  [http://www.ntia.doc.gov/other-publication/2012/notice-internet-assigned-numbers-authority-iana-functions-request-proposal-rf]

"This RFP cancellation, announced as ICANN convenes its March 11 - 16, 2012 meeting in Costa Rica, can only be seen as a clear message to ICANN that it must seriously address concerns by NTIA and multiple global stakeholders.  These include federal policymakers, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) , Internet security experts, the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO) and other stakeholders that have criticized ICANN's expansion of the domain name system with hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of new generic top-level domains," said Douglas J. Wood, General Counsel to the ANA, and a partner with Reed Smith LLP.

In a separate agreement with the DOC known as the Affirmation of Commitments, ICANN has general oversight of the domain name system (DNS).  Key to the operation of the Affirmation, however, is coordination with the Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA), an entity controlled by the United States.  The IANA manages access to the authoritative root server and Internet Protocol address assignments.  Without IANA's consent, ICANN cannot program new domain names, including any new gTLDs, into the Internet.  Scheduled to expire on March 31, 2012, the IANA contract will now be briefly extended to September 30, 2012.

On several occasions during 2011, NTIA reiterated key issues that needed to be addressed in response to the IANA RFP it publicly posted on November 10, 2011.  Those concerns, according to NTIA, were "structural separation of policymaking from implementation, a robust companywide conflict of interest policy, provisions reflecting heightened respect for local country laws, and a series of consultation and reporting requirements to increase transparency and accountability to the international community."

"This action by NTIA speaks volumes on how serious the problems are with ICANN and its continued need to respond responsibly to the clear demands of the stakeholders it purports to represent," said Bob Liodice, President and CEO, ANA. 

In particular, ICANN's conflict of interest policy has drawn significant public condemnation, with ex-employees and Directors joining companies that benefit financially by selling domain names or providing consulting to domain name owners.  That controversy came into particular focus when former ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush left the Board and joined the parent company for an Internet registry, Top Level Domain Holdings, just six weeks after he presided over the Board vote to open the Internet naming system to virtually unlimited generic top-level domains.

"NTIA's cancellation is even more telling because ICANN changed its conflict of interest policy subsequent to Thrush's departure and the issuance of the RFP.  Many people believe the changes ICANN made to its conflict of interest policy were entirely inadequate in addressing NTIA's legitimate concerns," explained Wood.  "With sixteen directors accountable through no independent oversight, their powers are unrestrained and, as recent decisions illustrate, ignore what the stakeholders want or, more importantly, need."

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About the ANA
Founded in 1910, the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) leads the marketing community by providing its members with insights, collaboration, and advocacy. ANA's membership includes 400 companies with 10,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing communications and advertising. The ANA strives to communicate marketing best practices, lead industry initiatives, influence industry practices, manage industry affairs, and advance, promote, and protect all advertisers and marketers. For more information, visit www.ana.net, follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook, or visit our YouTube channel.

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