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ICANN leaders confirm 2016 timeline for transition of key Internet function

ICANN president and CEO Fadi Chehade confirmed Monday that the international multi-stakeholder group won’t be ready to take over stewardship of the key Internet function controlled by the U.S. government until mid-2016.

The U.S. agreed in March 2014 to hand over control of IANA (the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), which manages the Internet’s domain name system, to ICANN when the U.S. contract expires in September 2015.

With September right around the corner, ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) won’t be able to meet that deadline.

At this week’s meeting in Buenos Aires, the transition proposal is the most important agenda item, as the international group works to fill-in details of the proposal, which Chehade said the group hopes to finalize at ICANN’s next global meeting this October in Dublin.

“We’re at a pivotal point with nearing the final stages of the proposal process for the transition,” Chehade said during a press conference Monday afternoon. “We’re expecting that at the next meeting in Dublin, the proposal will be done.”

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration would likely take until January 2016 to review and certify the proposal (making sure it meets certain criteria), followed by Congressional review. (The House is voting on the DOTCOM Act Tuesday which gives Congress a 30-day oversight window of the NTIA’s review and certification.)

Because the proposal and the process will not be completed by September 2015, ICANN will need to renew its contract with the U.S. to manage the IANA functions. Between now and the end of August, ICANN and the U.S. will agree on a period of renewal, which could be from Sept. 2015 and June 2016.

ICANN is set on completing the transition before the next Presidential election since a new President could reverse President Obama’s decision to turn the IANA functions over to ICANN.

“There is value to complete this transition with the current Administration so that the question isn’t even there for the next Administration,” said Stephen Crocker, chairman of the ICANN board.

Chehade recently announced he will step down from his position as president and CEO of ICANN next March.