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David Gross Testifies at U.S. House Hearing on Plan to Transfer Internet Domain Name Functions to Global Multi-Stakeholder Community

March 17, 2016

Washington, DC – Ambassador David A. Gross, chair of Wiley Rein’s International & Internet Practice, testified today at a U.S. House hearing on important developments in the process to transfer key Internet Assigned Name Authority (IANA) functions from the U.S. government to a global multi-stakeholder community. Appearing before the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Amb. Gross spoke on behalf of the Internet Governance Coalition, an industry-led group with broad representation from the communications and Internet sectors and related industries.

The IANA transition would cover domain name functions that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) currently manages under a contract with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). In March 2014, NTIA announced that it would transfer out of its IANA oversight role if certain conditions were met; global stakeholders convened by ICANN then developed a transition plan that was approved by the ICANN Board last week, along with a proposal for new accountability processes. The proposals require NTIA approval.

Amb. Gross, who attended last week’s ICANN meeting in Marrakech, called the approval of the plan “an important and significant event.” He said the proposals “will be good for America, good for American business, good for the Internet, and good for the world.”

He added that the Internet Governance Coalition believes the plan meets the conditions set forth by NTIA, and will be instrumental to ensuring the ongoing stability and reliability of the Internet.

“We are comfortable, especially, because we see no increased probability of the IANA functions being controlled or co-opted by foreign governments or intergovernmental organizations in the proposals,” Amb. Gross told the subcommittee. “Looking ahead, it will be important for all stakeholders to stay engaged, especially in the near term as the finalization of revisions to ICANN’s bylaws continues.”

Amb. Gross, one of the world’s foremost experts on international telecommunications, served in the U.S. Department of State as the U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy from 2001 to 2009. During that time, he was the co-head of the United States delegations to both actual phases of the United Nations’ World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva (2003) and Tunis (2005), which, among other things, focused on the role of governments regarding Internet governance and resulted in the creation of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

To read the written testimony of Amb. Gross, please click here.