|Headquarters:||Herbert C. Hoover Building|
1401 Constitution Avenue NW,
|Lawrence Strickling, Department Head|
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is an agency for the United States Department of Commerce (DOC) that acts as the Executive Branch, responsible for recommending the United States President on various telecommunications and information policies. NTIA was formed in 1978 with an aim to work with other Executive Branch Agencies on crucial issues regarding telecommunications and information policies and also to report on the administration’s current role and position as related to these policies and issues.
NTIA has always been at the forefront of critical issues and has played an important role in providing the guidelines to create and execute new policies to address these issues. It also represents the Executive Branch of the government in national and international telecommunications and information policy activities. NTIA oversees Federal use of the radio frequency spectrum, and does research on various telecommunications and engineering-related fields. It also manages the resolution of issues between the government and the private sector related to telecommunications and also provides grants to infrastructure and public telecommunications facilities.
NTIA has many goals for the development of the Telecommunication and Information sector, including the following:
- To provide U.S. citizens with internet, phone and cable services at an affordable rate.
- To provide information infrastructure grants for the development of under-served areas within the country.
- Providing scope for international competition in the telecommunications sector.
- To promote the adequate distribution of spectrum to various fields such as national defense, public safety, and businesses according to their demands and needs.
- Providing the infrastructure for the radio and television broadcasters to efficiently maintain and expand their services.
- Negotiating with other governments across the globe to provide platform for the U.S. companies to have a global outreach and provide their services internationally.
- To perform a long term research to find new possibilities in using the higher frequency spectrum for telecommunication.
- Partnering with national, state and local public safety agencies to understand the necessities of the future spectrum on the grass root level.
Organizational offices of NTIA
- Office of the Policy Analysis and Development (OPAD): OPAD looks after various domestic policies and is responsible for advising the Executive Branch on various issues and policies after performing adequate research and analysis.
- Office of International Affairs (OIA): OIA is responsible for creating policies that help U.S. companies compete internationally in both the fields of Information Technology and Communications.
- Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS): ITS is the research and engineering laboratory of the NTIA. ITS provides technical assistance in the fields of Information Technology and Telecommunications to develop and implement various updated technologies. It assists NTIA in the development of infrastructure for telecommunications and information technology, in order to provide efficient services across the country.
- Office of Telecommunications and Information Application (OTIA): OTIA provides a platform for the public and non-profit organizations to collaborate and work on various telecommunications and information technologies for the benefit of the national development and prosperity.
- Office of Spectrum Management (OSM): OSM is responsible for supervising the use of the radio frequency spectrum provided to the Federal Government. It is also the part of the Department of Commerce (DOC) which oversees ICANN.
Relation with ICANN
NTIA maintains a relationship through ICANN through the latter's role of managing IANA for the former. In November, 2011, NTIA put the IANA Contract up for bid. The move was largely seen as symbolic, and the general consensus was that ICANN was assuredly to be awarded its authority once again. The rewrite in the contract changed language related to gTLDs, no longer requiring proof of consensus but rather proof of process and proof that the new gTLD is in the global public interest; this could be read as a vague strengthening of the role of the GAC within ICANN. It also required that a clear Conflicts of Interest and Ethics policy be adopted. There was also an increase in deadlines and mandatory reports in the new contract, which quashed speculation that the U.S. government would continue to allow ICANN to act with greater independence and accountability.
Following the departure of Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush from the ICANN Board, and his immediate hiring by Minds + Machines in 2011, The U.S. Government and other Internet stakeholders began calling for greater ethics controls and a clear policy to be put in place. The European Commission, in one of its 6 non-papers of 2011, called for the USG to enforce such stipulations via its IANA contract. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden also called for ethics rules to be put in place via a letter to National Telecommunications and Information Administration. In September, 2011, the head of NTIA, Lawrence Strickling, responded to Wyden with assurances that it is “actively exploring how to best meet this requirement” for “a clear and enforced ethics and conflict of interest policy”. This came at a time when NTIA says it was undertaking its first comprehensive review of its IANA contract with ICANN since it was awarded in 2000.
The U.S. Government had been involved in the 6 year process that created the 2011 gTLD Application Program, and NTIA's Lawrence Strickling has been both a vocal critic and ally of ICANN, its processes, and the new gTLD program. In January, 2012, Mr. Strickling wrote to ICANN following multiple recent hearings in the U.S. Congress regarding ICANN's new gTLD program; this was a time of widespread concern on behalf of poorly-informed trademark owners, and also calls for the delay or cancellation of the program by trademark lobby groups ANA, CRIDO, and CADNA. What little media attention the program received was almost wholly negative, including Op-eds in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. In his letter, addressed to Chairman Steve Crocker, Mr. Strickling urged ICANN to more successfully showcase their new gTLD expansion program, and especially emphasize the number of built-in protections for trademark owners.
Mr. Strickling notes that NTIA has no plan or desire to actually interfere in the process after the 6 years of work and the imminent launch, but he does lament the number of problems that have been created largely by ICANN's poor outreach and education. NTIA identified 3 specific things to address: to educate trademark owners about measures in place allowing them to forego defensive registrations; to immediately implement consumer protections it has already devised; and to generally better educate all stakeholders. However, NTIA did suggest and open up the possibility of adding further protections once the application pool is closed and NTIA, alongside ICANN's GAC, had a chance to review the pool of applicants and reflect on what further steps could be taken in the second level.
The full letter can be seen here.
Proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights
The Obama Administration revealed the proposed "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights," as part of United States government's commitment to improve consumer privacy protection and to ensure that the internet remains as a tool for innovation and economic growth on February 23, 2012. In his statement, President Barack Obama said, "American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online. As the Internet evolves, consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy. That’s why an online privacy Bill of Rights is so important. For businesses to succeed online, consumers must feel secure. By following this blueprint, companies, consumer advocates and policymakers can help protect consumers and ensure the Internet remains a platform for innovation and economic growth."  
The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights is a component of the report,Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy. The proposed bill provides consumers with the following rights:
- Individual Control- Consumers have a right to choose what personal data are collected and how they are used.
- Transparency- Consumers have a right to access and easily understand the privacy and security practices of a company.
- Respect for Context- Consumers have a right to expect that their personal data are collected and used based on the purposes they approved.
- Security- Companies need to the handle consumers personal data properly and securely.
- Access and accuracy- Consumers should have reasonable access to their personal data and provide appropriate measures to correct inaccurate information.
- Focused Collection- Consumers should be able to set reasonable limitation to companies on the extent of personal data collected and stored.
- Accountability- Consumers have a right make sure that companies are held accountable and responsible handling their personal data and follow the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.
- ↑ NTIA About
- ↑ NTIA Facebook
- ↑ ecommerce.hostip.info
- ↑ OPAD Home
- ↑ OIA Home
- ↑ ITS Home
- ↑ OTIA Home
- ↑ OSM Home
- ↑ US puts ICANN Contract up for rebid, DomainIncite.com
- ↑ DOC to ICANN Clear Ethics Policy, thedomains.com
- ↑ Expanding Internet Domains, NYTimes.com
- ↑ Whats the Rush, WashingtonPost.com
- ↑ NTIA Letter on gTLD Program Jan 3 2012, ntia.doc.gov
- ↑ US data privacy: the hard work begins
- ↑ We Can’t Wait: Obama Administration Unveils Blueprint for a “Privacy Bill of Rights” to Protect Consumers Online
- ↑ Testimony of Assistant Secretary Strickling Regarding the State of Online Consumer Privacy