In a September 21st letter sent by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Lawrence Strickling to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) disclosed that it is “actively exploring how to best meet this requirement” for “a clear and enforced ethics and conflict of interest policy” in the next version of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) contract.
The situation arising about conflicts of interest arose after the former Chairman of ICANN Peter Thrush, was hired by Minds + Machines shortly after leaving ICANN and leading the vote to approve the new gTLD program.
This Department of Commerce letter was sent in response to a September 14th letter from Senator Wyden to NTIA raising concerns about news reports of a “revolving door” at ICANN.
The letter was received via the Internet Commerce Association (the “ICA”)
You might note that Senator Wyden was the one who basically put the hold on the Protect IP bill that would have authorize private lawsuits that could shut down ads and payments on domains.
In the letter Senator Wyden writes:
“While I support the control of this system by NTIA, I also believe that any IANA employees ought to be made subject to the same ethics rules in place as NTIA employees. With the growth in importance of this authority, it is important to ensure that decisions are made impartially.”
“Senator Wyden’s interest in this issue was reportedly sparked by a September 21st story in the Washington Post headlined “A ‘revolving door’ at nonprofit keeper of domain names”
Secretary Strickling’s letter of response also notes that the NTIA has conducted two Notices of Inquiry regarding the IANA contract in February and June of this year, and has “received 136 comments from a range of domestic and international stakeholders including governments, private sector entities, and individuals who also noted the need for increase transparency and accountability” — all as part of the first comprehensive review of the IANA contract since it was initially awarded to ICANN in 2000.
NTIA recently exercised its option to extend the length of the current IANA contract, from the end of September 2011 to March 2012, to allow for extended consideration of whether the contract should be re-awarded to ICANN, as well as what additional conditions should accompany it.
Here is the letter: