Senator Burns Sends Warning Shot Across ICANN's Bow

Profession:Reed Smith Hall Dickler

Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT), who has taken the lead on issues concerning the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), first threatened to introduce legislation to clip ICANN's wings, then stepped back and said he would wait and see how ICANN reforms itself. On June 10, 2002, two days before Burns' Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space was to hold hearings on ICANN, he said he likely would introduce a bill requiring ICANN to give the U.S. government more influence in managing the domain name system or else face a revocation of its contract with the U.S. Commerce Department when it comes up for renewal in the fall. At the Subcommittee hearing, however, Burns said he was willing to hold off on legislation while he gathered additional information.

"ICANN was initially created to address technological concerns, but it's now a policymaking body without due process," said Burns on June 10. "Simply put, ICANN was never meant to be a super-national regulatory body." "My feeling right now is the (contract) should be extended," Burns said on June 12. "There are some things that we have to iron out." Commerce Department Assistant Secretary Nancy Victory refused to say whether ICANN's contract would be extended, but was supportive of ICANN's reform. "The department continues to be supportive of the ICANN model," she told the Subcommittee at the hearing.

Among those also testifying at the Subcommittee hearing was Peter Guerrero, a Director of the General Accounting Office (GAO). Guerrero's testimony and the GAO's published analysis [pdf format] found ICANN slow to meet its goals of increasing Internet stability and security, and bringing private Internet users into policymaking. "Until these issues are resolved, the timing and eventual outcome of...

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