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Remarks of Assistant Secretary Redl at ICANN 61

March 12, 2018

Remarks of David J. Redl
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information
ICANN 61
San Juan, Puerto Rico
March 12, 2018

--As Prepared for Delivery--

Thank you Cherine and Goran, and a special thanks to Governor Ricardo Rosselló for taking the time to join us here today. And thanks to our hosts, nic.pr, for organizing this ICANN meeting, and for bringing all of us to beautiful Puerto Rico. I think ICANN and the attendees deserve a round of applause for supporting Puerto Rico and representing the first major conference to take place in San Juan since the devastating hurricane last year.

Two years ago, I attended the March ICANN meeting in Marrakesh at a pivotal moment for ICANN and the multistakeholder model. At that time, I was watching as an advisor to the U.S. Congress. I am happy to now be addressing you as the Administrator of NTIA, an organization that has led the U.S. government in advocating for, participating in, and supporting the multistakeholder model of Internet governance.  

Let me be clear at the outset: The Trump Administration has and will continue to strongly advocate for the multistakeholder approach to Internet governance and policy development. Our belief in this approach is grounded in the principle that Internet policy issues are best addressed through the contributions of diverse stakeholders that work to make decisions in a bottom-up, consensus-based fashion.  

The United States believes that the continued growth of the Internet and the services it enables is dependent upon the ability of stakeholders to drive policy decision-making. ICANN remains today one of the best examples of multistakeholder governance and policy development.

That’s why I’d like to commend Cherine for his focus on ICANN’s strategic vision and financial security. This community, including the world’s governments, have placed faith and responsibility in ICANN, and ensuring its long-term viability is a welcome discussion. 

That being said, I would like to use the remainder of my remarks to talk about policy. The United States continues to see opportunities in which ICANN can improve its policy development processes and bring greater predictability and transparency into its processes and actions. 

A good example is ensuring that ICANN remains committed to its accountability mechanisms and lets those mechanisms be driven by the community without undue influence from ICANN. I was surprised by the actions taken by the ICANN Board last year pertaining to the Security and Stability Review Team.  While I look forward to seeing this import work restart, I think this case provides an opportunity for the community and ICANN to clearly identify its expectations when it comes to ICANN accountability mechanisms such as special reviews, and to articulate what the role of ICANN Org and the ICANN Board should be in such processes.

The community spent an impressive amount of time and effort to strengthen ICANN as a multistakeholder body that is accountable. It is imperative that the community and ICANN continue to build off of this success.

As we look ahead, one of the top policy priorities for the United States in ICANN is the preservation of the WHOIS service.  

As you know, the WHOIS service is an incredibly valuable tool for governments, businesses, intellectual property rights holders, and individual Internet users around the world.

I am pleased to see that ICANN and the community have committed to find a solution that maintains the WHOIS service to the greatest extent possible in the face of data protection and privacy regulations such as the European General Data Protection Regulation.

The United States and other governments in the GAC have stated their commitment to maintaining a WHOIS service that is quickly accessible for legitimate purposes.

With respect to the recently published interim model, we are pleased that ICANN was able to pull from so many different interests and needs expressed by the community. That being said, the United States would encourage revisions to the model to permit access to the most amount of registration data as possible. We think there is more that can be done to achieve this.

Additionally, the United States remains concerned with the uncertainty around how access to WHOIS information for legitimate purposes will be maintained in the period between the date of GDPR enforcement, May 25, and the time in which the community is able to develop and agree to a formal accreditation processes. Plans need to be put in place to ensure that the users behind the already defined legitimate purposes – such as law enforcement, intellectual property enforcement, and cybersecurity – are not stymied in their efforts to serve the public interest.  

Moreover, as Goran noted, there remains great uncertainty as to how these proposed solutions will be received by the governments that established GDPR.  At this critical time, the ICANN community would benefit from clarity and guidance from our European colleagues and the DPAs. 

The United States will not accept a situation in which WHOIS information is not available or is so difficult to gain access to that it becomes useless for the legitimate purposes that are critical to the ongoing stability and security of the Internet.  We look forward to working with ICANN and the community to see this through. 

Other NTIA priorities under my leadership are consistent with longstanding U.S. goals. NTIA continues to be focused on protecting and promoting an open and interoperable Internet, advocating for the free flow of information, and strengthening the global marketplace for digital products and services. 

Our proactive international agenda includes working with international partners to develop a common view on the technologies and trends that will shape the future Internet-enabled economy. This includes a commitment from me that NTIA will remain a strong participant in the ICANN model as the United States Government’s representative to the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).

In closing, I would like to say that I am inspired by the work of this community, by what dedicated stakeholders and volunteers from around the world are able to achieve in their respective ICANN communities and when working together. The democratic principles at the heart of the multistakeholder model demand that no stakeholder’s voice is more important than any other’s. By working through consensus we achieve our best results, and when that consensus reflects a diversity of viewpoints, we build durable, lasting policies that scale at the speed of the Internet. 

I look forward to working with you to strengthen our collective work on these vital issues.