Experts welcome US’ plan to relinquish internet naming authority

(L-r): Sikiru Shehu, dean, NiRA Academy; Ezekiel Egboye, director, ATCON; Muhammed Rudman, NiRA vice president and Edith Udeagu, NiRA Chief Operating Officer (COO) during IPv6 training for telecoms engineers held at NiRA House in Lagos, recently.

(L-r): Sikiru Shehu, dean, NiRA Academy; Ezekiel Egboye, director, ATCON; Muhammed Rudman, NiRA vice president and Edith Udeagu, NiRA Chief Operating Officer (COO) during IPv6 training for telecoms engineers held at NiRA House in Lagos, recently.

Experts in the internet domain name system in Nigeria have applauded the United States Government’s decision to officially relinquish its authority over the industry on October 1.If relinquished, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based non-profit comprised of government and technology stakeholders will take principal charge of the domain naming system across the globe.

As at the time of filling this report, over 33,000 emails have been exchanged and more than 800 hours have been spent in meetings discussing the transition.Mr. Muhammd Rudman, vice president of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek in Lagos, that the US/ICAAN agreement has been long term (transition) process; however, the industry is upbeat that it will eventually happen.

“They (US Government) usually indicate willingness to let the internet governance become free. Until we see it happen, then we will know how committed is the government towards the global concern, because it has been in the pipeline for a long time. What we know at the moment is that October 1 is when the contract between ICAAN and NTIA will expire.

“We hope that from that point they can hands-off. So, nobody can make concrete statement on the possibility of the internet governance going off the hands of the inventors, at least for now. But, the world would appreciate it when it happens”.

The decision to give ICANN the powers has been the plan all along. For instance, in a 1998 policy statement, the NTIA said it was committed to a transition that would let the private sector take over management of the domain name system.

“Today, China, and the rest of the world are pushing for America to hands off. The fear is that if America decides to shut down the internet they can easily achieve that hence the call for it be left in the hands of stakeholders, which was the principal reason for creating ICAAN,” Rudman said.

On his part, Mr. Sikiru Shehu, member of the Board of Directors at NiRA, reiterated that time has come for the world to have “very clear playing field” on internet governance.

Shehu said, “The fact remains that the internet has come of age, thus, no one can claim the ownership. People have thought about who owns the internet? It is just a network of networks. The way it is configured today, before anybody will claim its possession, you have to think twice because of the configurations. The ownership has gone global. I my view, the US government thought of it before they decided they want to hands-off the governance”.

On the expected impact on global economy, he said, “Well, whatever gives rise to equal rights, the results are usually huge. If eventually the US hands over the right to the global community, creativity will become more impactful; whether you are black or white, we just have to put our acts together to move the world forward. It is going to make the global internet community come closer”.

The internet domain name expert added that internet governance is paramount in moving the global community forward.

He said, “It is good for Internet Governance. For instance, in those days many people preached against open source, but today, the world is better for it. It is a sure way to better internet governance, cyber security and other factors involved. It will now be in our hands to decide how Africans or the whole world want it to be used/governed”.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration has authority over the domain name system but has mostly let ICANN run the show since 1998.



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