The end of the contract means the NTIA will not be able to continue to push ICANN to improve its services, as it has in recent years, DelBianco said. "The IANA contract is the only real check on ICANN's power," he added. "While we all want a strong and independent ICANN, it makes no sense to release the organization from IANA's contractual leverage before it creates real and permanent accountability mechanisms."
In addition, ICANN could now "escape its legal presence in the US, despite having many contracts that are adjudicated under U.S. law," he said.
U.S. Senator John "Jay" Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, called the announcement the "next phase" of a longtime commitment the U.S. government has made toward a global governance model.
"The Internet was invented and developed in the U.S., and it has completely transformed the way people communicate and do business in every corner of the world," he said in a statement. Since ICANN's creation in 1998, "the U.S. has been committed to transitioning management of the Internet's domain name system to an independent entity that reflects the broad diversity of the global Internet community."
Leaders of several Internet technical organizations, including the Internet Society, the Internet Engineering Task Force and the World Wide Web Consortium, praised the move.
"Our organizations are committed to open and transparent multistakeholder processes," they said in a joint statement. "We are also committed to further strengthening our processes and agreements related to the IANA functions, and to building on the existing organizations and their roles. The Internet technical community is strong enough to continue its role, while assuming the stewardship function as it transitions from the U.S. government."
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.