Since NTIA announced its acceptance of ICANN's transition plan (see the FedSoc teleforum on the issue) there has been an increase in the predictable volume from those who breathlessly characterize the conclusion of this transition as "the US giving up control of the Internet," or on the other hand, a "bold decision by the Obama administration to preserve Internet freedoms and openness."

The truth is that the US Government has never had any operational "control of the Internet" to give up, and this transition began in the Clinton administration, was continued through the Bush administration, and is now set to conclude in the Obama administration.  This is not to suggest that the careful execution of this transition does not remain of critical importance and worthy of Congressional attention and oversight, but rather that it is more important to focus on the technical legal framework of the transition than on hyperventilating hyperbole.

ICANN plays an important but largely technical function that properly falls under the purview of the private sector.  And while certain governments have long sought greater influence over these technical functions as a means of influencing speech and parochial economic interests, the transition has been designed to ensure that ICANN remain a private non-profit entity incorporated under the laws of the State of California.

So the task now is two-fold.  First, ensure that ICANN's implementation plan is watertight and includes no flexibility on the issue of legal structure and jurisdiction. And second, the impacted private sector interests must step into the shoes of the US government and take advantage of ICANN's by-laws and the protections of California law to ensure that ICANN remains accountable and responsive to its constituencies.