The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is being transferred from the US to a worldwide group with multiple stakeholders, and many say it’s about time. Earlier, the US House of Representatives Republicans introduced a bill that would have put a stop on this segue, but President Obama said he would veto that move if it came down to it. Finally, ICANN’s CEO and President Fadi Chehade says he’s confident the transfer will take place, and that the outcome would be positive for everyone impacted. According to Reuters, Chehade says that thanks to President Obama’s intervention, the transfer should be finished by the time the 2016 presidential elections are complete.

ICANN has overseen the top level domain (TLD) database for almost 20 years. Originally, the Commerce Department was asked to oversee TLD database administration on a contract basis, but no changes were ever made from this original, quickie solution. Obviously, TLD maintenance and management needs have grown immensely since 1998. The contract is coming to a close in September, and although it will likely need a year-long extension, the extension period is when the transition should take place.

Cost Effectiveness

The House’s Republicans opposed the bill because it, of course, is a costly move. There is still some opposition that might halt the plan, but according to Chehade the complete proposal is getting nothing but positive support from the majority of government entities. What’s a somewhat costly requirement upfront will ultimately lead to more security, transparency and cost savings down the road. For almost two decades a short-term solution has largely worked, but now it’s time to move TLD database management into a worldwide environment.

Chehade says, “I think they see now that this is actually a good thing for the Internet. The fragmentation of the Internet is bad for everyone. I’m never comfortable, but I am optimistic and I believe that all interests are now aligned…everybody sees that this makes sense.” Hopefully, the proposal will be agreed upon before 2016. The US government expects all reviews to take between 60 and 90 days, which aligns perfectly with Chehades’ goal to leave ICANN in March of 2016. It will be his final offering as President, and a means of leaving a legacy.

A Prickly Pairing

For years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and ICANN have been at odds. According to the FCC, there are issues with the latest gTLD communication releases. ICANN is slowly but surely trying to address these issues, starting with talking to White House executives about potential new responsibilities. However, it was ultimately decided that ICANN itself is no longer the best entity for overseeing TLD databases. All sides agree, and now it’s an issue of making the segue as flawless and quick as possible.

What does this mean for website owners and web hosts? Likely nothing major on the surface. Website owners probably won’t notice any changes at all. However, there’s no telling what the final proposal will look like or what trickle-down effects might seep into the web hosting industry. All eyes are on ICANN, and we’ll know by this time next year which changes, if any, will occur due to the switch.


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