On 30 September 2009, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) signed the Affirmation of Commitments (AOC) with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The four-page document replaces the Joint Project Agreement (JPA), which governed part of the government’s relationship with ICANN. The AOC gives ICANN the autonomy to manage its own affairs. Prior agreements had to be renewed every few years; the new AOC one has no fixed term.
When ICANN was created in 1998 with the assistance of the United States Government, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) process was started with the goal of coordinating the Internet's unique identifiers by the private sector through a not-for-profit organization.
The AOC is intended as a step forward in the progress and internationalization of the ICANN model, committing ICANN to remaining a private not-for-profit organization. It declares that ICANN is independent and is not controlled by any one entity. It commits ICANN to reviews performed by the community.
But not all organizations supported the AOC. The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) does not agree with the AOC agreement because they feel that it falls gravely short on the fundamental accountability issues with ICANN. For example, there are no penalties if ICANN fails to take direction from its new overseers short of a termination of the agreement.
The AOC sets up oversight panels, which include representatives of foreign governments, to conduct regular reviews of ICANN’s work in four areas: 1). competition among generic domains (such as .com and .net), the 2). handling of data on registrants, the 3). security of the network, transparency, and accountability and 4). public interest (the only panel on which the U.S. will retain a permanent seat).
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