Lawrence Strickling is a technology policy expert. He is the former Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) under the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC). He was sworn into office on June 25, 2009. As NTIA administrator, he is responsible in making sure that the agency's initiatives will result to the expansion of broadband internet access and the internet will continue as an effective vehicle for economic growth and innovation. He is one of the main contact points between ICANN and the U.S. Government.
While sometimes critical of ICANN, he is fundamentally supportive of it and its multi-stakeholder model. He has occasionally acted as an evangelist that has sought to educate the public sector and the American business community about its role within the multi-stakeholder model.
- 1 Career History
- 2 ICANN Involvement
- 2.1 ATRT Member
- 2.2 ICANN Cartagena Board Meeting
- 2.3 Remarks During the ICANN 40 Meeting
- 2.4 Issue on Co-Ownership Between Registries and Registrars for Existing and New gTLDs
- 2.5 Speech During the IGF USA Meeting
- 2.6 Issue on ICANN Ethics and Conflict of Interest
- 2.7 Comments on the New gTLD Expansion Program
- 2.8 Stronger Decision Making Model
- 2.9 October, 2012, Follow-up
- 2.10 December 2012, Follow-up
- 3 Principles of Internet Governance
- 4 Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights
- 5 Education
- 6 Publications
- 7 References
Strickling started his career as a Litigation Partner in 1976 at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. , a law firm based in Chicago, where he worked until 1987. He became Vice President for Public Policy of Ameritech, one of the Regional Bell Operating Companies for more than four years from February 1993 to September 1997. After serving Ameritech, he went on to work for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as Chief of the Common Carrier Bureau from 1998 to 2000. He was responsible for promoting competition and consumer protection within the communications industry by implementing the rules set forth by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He also served as Associate General Counsel and Chief of the Commissions Competition Division before serving as Chief of the Common Carrier Bureau. In 2000, he served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for CoreExpress for more than one year. He joined Allegiance Telecom as Senior Vice president in 2002 and left the company after 2 years. In September, 2004, Strickling was hired by Broadwing Communications as Chief Regulatory Officer. He left the company in 2007 and joined the Obama for America in May, 2007, as Policy Coordinator. On March 26, 2009, President Barack Obama announced Strickling’s nomination as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information under the Department of Commerce. He assumed his position on June 25, 2009.
As Assistant Secretary of Communications and Information, Strickling supervised the Recovery Act Broadband Grants Program worth more than $4.7 billion. He is currently managing the implementation and oversight of the program and ensures that the nationwide broadband project will be effective and installed on schedule and the Americans will benefit from it. He was also instructed by President Obama to supervise NTIA's initiatives for domestic and global Internet policy and administrative issues, particularly the Internet Policy Task Force of the Department of Commerce. He also plays an important role as an advocate for the United States government's position abroad in connection with its Internet policies and participates in the different activities of ICANN in order to promote the stability and security of the Domain Name System (DNS).
- Chairman of the Board of Visitors- Maryland School of Public Policy
- Chairman of the Board of Trustees- University of Chicago Court Theatre
- Chairman Board of Directors- Music of the Baroque in Chicago
As Assistant Secretary for Communication and Information of the Department of Commerce and NTIA Administrator, Strickling actively participates in the different activities and policy development issues of ICANN. He is an ex-officio member of ICANN's Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT).
ICANN Cartagena Board Meeting
During the ICANN meeting in Cartagena on December 7, 2010, Strickling pointed out the United States government’s commitment to the Internet governing body’s multi-stakeholder model. He informed the ICANN Board that he spent 12 months analyzing the global expansion of the multi-stakeholder model to other realms of Internet policy development, and that the Department of Commerce established the Internet Policy Task Force, which is to concentrate on issues related to online privacy, copyright protection, cyber security and the free flow of information worldwide. He also pointed out that the Affirmation of Commitments between ICANN and the United States government is a serious document. ICANN needs to keep its responsibilities in the Affirmation of Commitments and promote high quality decision-making. Regarding the expansion of new gTLD’s, he pointed out tha U.S. government is expecting ICANN to issue a serious economic study since other governments and organizations expressed their concerns and cited that the costs of the large expansion of top level domain names outweigh the benefits. Furthermore, he stressed that one of the top challenges for ICANN is its relationship with foreign governments, and he stressed that the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) is the perfect avenue for ICANN to reach out, deal with foreign governments and show the benefits of participating in the ICANN process.
Remarks During the ICANN 40 Meeting
During his keynote speech at the ICANN 40 meeting in San Francisco on March 14, 2011, Strickling informed the ICANN Community that the United States government is "absolutely committed to the multi-stakeholder process as an essential strategy for dealing with Internet policy issues and to the ICANN model as the best way to preserve and protect the security and stability of the Internet." However the Assistant Secretary also stressed that, "we should never shy away from critically evaluating its performance and making improvements where appropriate." He also said that he spends a lot of time and effort in making sure that ICANN's reality measures up to its vision. In his speech he also informed the ICANN community that the Internet Policy Task Force created by the DOC Secretary will work to: 
- Enhance Internet privacy
- Ensure cybersecurity
- Protect online copyright
- Ensure the free flow of global information
Strickling enumerated some of the achievements of ICANN such as the introduction of 27 Internationalized country code top level domain names (IDN ccTLDs), the implementation of a review team process as stipulated in the Affirmation and the effort made by the ICANN Board and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) to work together to increase the number of generic top level domain names (gTLDs). However, he also expressed some of his disappointments. Despite ICANN's accomplishments, he strongly emphasized that ICANN still needs to work to realize its vision. He expressed his disappointment with some of ICANN's decisions to remove the cross-ownership restriction. He stated that,"the Board still has not explained the basis of its decision to shift from no cross ownership to de minimus cross ownership to full cross ownership over the course of a single calendar year." He was also disappointed by the Boards decision to reverse its commitment to conduct further economic studies regarding the impact of new gTLDS. He emphasized that these decisions demonstrated that, "ICANN still has work to do to ensure that decisions made related to the global technical coordination of the DNS are in the public interest and are accountable and transparent." To help ICANN realize its vision, the Assistant Secretary made three recommendations:
- Implement the Recommendations of the Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT)
- Work harder to engage governments in the multi-stakeholder process by providing them a meaningful opportunity to participate and be heard inside of ICANN
- Stop making decisions by yourself
Issue on Co-Ownership Between Registries and Registrars for Existing and New gTLDs
On June 16, 2011, Strickling wrote to the ICANN Board through is Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush in conjunction with the implementation of the new gTLD programs. The DOC Assistant Secretary pointed out that some of the resolutions approved by the ICANN Board will affect the competition within the DNS market place such as the non-restriction for cross-ownership between registries and registrars and allowing existing registry operators to adopt the new form of registry agreement once the new gTLD program is implemented. Strickling pointed out that it is critical to preserve competition as well as consumer protection. He advised the ICANN Board to evaluate and consider the concerns raised by the European Commission and other competition authorities before implementing the changes adopted by the Board regarding the restriction changes on cross-ownership between registries and registrars for existing and new gTLDs. Furthermore, he shared the evaluation and advice provided by the U.S. Department of Justice Anti-Trust Division regarding the issues.
Speech During the IGF USA Meeting
In a speech delivered during the Internet Governance Forum USA Meeting on July 18, 2011, Strickling reiterated the United States government's commitment to the multi-stakeholder governance model of the Internet. He stressed that he is pleased with ICANN's move in adopting the 27 accountability and transparency recommendations he submitted to the Board, including the suggestion related to the importance of GAC advice in connection with gTLDs. He encouraged ICANN Staff to implement the recommendations "rapidly and thoroughly". The NTIA Assistant Secreatary also acknowledged the reality that not all proposals were included in the Final Applicant Guidebook, and that this doesn't mean that the process is a failure but a reflection of the reality of the multi-stakeholder model. He also emphasized the United States governments strong opposition regarding the proposal of some nations for a treaty approach model for Internet governance. He further encouraged the IGF attendees to "advocate for a multi-stakeholder approach, not a treaty-based approach to developing policy."  
Issue on ICANN Ethics and Conflict of Interest
Senator Ron Wyden wrote a letter to NTIA Assistant Secretary Strickling on September 14, 2011 regarding the issue of the “revolving door” between the domain name industry and ICANN. This was at a time when there were many reports and commentaries written about Peter Dengate Thrush's immediate acceptance of the position as Chairman of Minds + Machines after his term expired as Chairman of the ICANN Board on June 24, 2011. Some individuals from the Internet community were uncomfortable with Thrush's move since he voted for the approval of the implementation of the new gTLD program, and days after his term expired he became the first ICANN chairperson to accept a high paying job from a company dedicated to providing complete gTLD application and registry services. Dengate Thrush did not violate any rule since there was no firm policy preventing the members of the ICANN Board from joining companies in the domain industry after their term expired. The Internet community, including Senator Wyden, recommended the development of a new ethics policy to prevent the “revolving door”. In his letter to Strickling, Senator Wyden stated that the designated [[[IANA]] manager, which has been and continues to be ICANN, plays a huge role in regulating the multi-million dollar domain name industry. Since IANA is not an agency of the federal government, its executives are not bound by the same financial, ethics or conflict of interest rules followed by executives of federal agencies or members of the Congress. According to Wyden, “While I support the control of this system by NTIA, I also believe that any IANA employees ought to be made subject to the same ethics rules in place as NTIA employees. With the growth in importance of this authority, it is important to ensure that decisions are made impartially.” Senator Wyden recommended strict ethics guidelines with emphasis on transparency for the next contract negotiation with ICANN or any other organization that will be selected to operate IANA.
Secretary Strickling agreed with Senator Wyden’s opinion that the organization designated as the IANA manager should maintain a high level of accountability and transparency. He assured the Senator that NTIA is actively working on developing policies that will “best meet the requirement for a clear and enforced ethics and conflict of interest policy” in the next IANA contract. In addition, the Assistant Secretary also informed the Senator that two notices of inquiry had been conducted regarding the IANA contract in February and June 2011 respectively as part of the agency’s comprehensive review of IANA. NTIA received 136 comments during the global input process, which can be interpreted to show that stakeholders believe that there is a need to increase accountability and transparency. A summary of the responses to Further Notice of Inquiry from the internet community regarding the operation of the IANA Function is available here
NTIA decided to open the IANA contract for a competitive bidding to interested organizations and temporarily extended ICANN's contract until March 31, 2012.  The notice for the solicitation of bidding to operate function is available here
ICANN Response on the Issue of Conflict of Interest
In response to the conflict of interest issues raised by the Strickling, Senator Wyden and other organizations, the ICANN Board discussed the necessary actions to resolve the issue during an ICANN Board Governance Meeting (BGC) on September 15, 2011. The ICANN Board agreed to do the following:
- ICANN's Conflicts of Interest Policy will be reviewed by the CEO and the General Counsel, who will propose revisions.
- An external firm with expertise in advising on ethical issues will be hired to advise and assist the Internet governing body in developing an ICANN Ethics Regime or set of Guidelines for the Board, the staff and the community.
- Cherine Chalaby, Bill Graham and Ray Plzak were tasked to lead a team who will review and guide staff efforts to revise the Conflicts of Interest Policy and development of the Ethics Regime or set of Guidelines.
In addition, during the ICANN Meeting in Dakar, ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom proposed to the Internet governing body that person who will replace him should be an outsider and not involved in the domain name industry business to protect the integrity of ICANN. Beckstrom said, "I hope that the person who replaces me will be of the highest integrity and has no recent or current commercial or career interests in the domain industry, because ICANN’s fairness, objectivity and independence are of paramount importance to the future of the Internet. We are not here in the domain name business,” he said. “We are here to serve the global public interest." 
Prior to Beckstrom's statement, the ICANN Board already decided that the designated members of the CEO Search Committee will rule out anyone who is current or incoming member of the Board or liaisons as possible candidates to succeed Beckstrom during the CEO selection process.
At the December 8, 2011 meeting of the board, they voted to reimburse each director 35,000 annually, which was seen as a direct response to complaints made by the aforementioned parties.
Comments on the New gTLD Expansion Program
During the 29th Annual Telecommunications Policy & Regulation Conference on December 8, 2011, Strickling reiterated the commitment of the United States government to the multi-stakeholder governance of the Internet. In his speech, he emphasized that NTIA had been "active in promoting the multi-stakeholder model in the international arena through its work at ICANN and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)." According to him, the multi-stakeholder process promotes wider, more creative problem solving, speedier and more flexible decision-making compared with traditional, top down regulatory models. However, he pointed out that the multi-stakeholder process is challenged by other countries pushing for the Internet to be governed under a treaty. He cited ICANN’s latest multi-stakeholder process regarding the introduction of new gTLDs scheduled to take effect on January, 2012, as an example. He pointed out that NTIA, along with global Internet stakeholders from the business sector, civil society, registries, registrars, and governments worked together to ensure that ICANN was able to properly address all issues and concern during the six years process before approving the new gTLD program. He also said that for the past two years, NTIA moved to improve ICANN’s accountability and transparency. Despite the collective efforts and agreements of stakeholders worldwide, there are organizations that are not happy with the result of the multi-stakeholder process and they are trying to convince NTIA to stop or postpone the implementation of the new gTLD Program. Strickling acknowledged the reality that the "the multi-stakeholder process does not guarantee that everyone will be satisfied with the outcome." One of the organizations vigilant in criticizing ICANN’s implementation of the new gTLD program is the ANA, which managed to asked the Senate Committee on Commerce to investigate the issue. Strickling said, "When parties ask us to overturn the outcomes of these processes, no matter how well-intentioned the request, they are providing “ammunition” to other countries who attempt to justify their unilateral actions to deny their citizens the free flow of information on the Internet." He strongly expressed that NTIA will not overturn ICANN’s decision because the stakes are too high.
In January, 2012, Mr. Strickling wrote to ICANN following 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 CRIDO, CADNA, and ANA. 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.
Furthermore, Secretary Strickling urged ICANN to strengthen its Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) and incorporate the proposals of law enforcement agencies as per GAC recommendation, to resolve the issues raised regarding the implementation of the Whois policies and to centralize and automate the complaint process to make it more transparent. Again, the secretary reiterated NTIA's dedication in maintaining and open global internet.
Secretary Strickling's letter to ICANN is available here.
Stronger Decision Making Model
While still supporting the organization, Secretary Strickling called on ICANN to make a stronger consensus making model so as to limit the number of complaints that skip the process and appeal directly to the ICANN Board. This could be read as a criticism of the amount of attention and overall affect that the Association of National Advertisers had on the ICANN process when it started an anti-gTLD expansion campaign against the Board and the U.S. Government. Secretary Strickling says it is not healthy for the ICANN Board to pick winners and losers and that the debates need to happen in the bottom tiers of the multi-stakeholder model.
October, 2012, Follow-up
On October 4, 2012, a week prior to the start of ICANN's 45th meeting in Toronto, Sec. Larry Strickling followed up his January 2012 letter to ICANN. He first noted that NTIA had noticed recent progress within the organization citing the progress on incorporating the law enforcement concerns via the GAC within negotiations for a new Registrar Accreditation Agreement; the recent announcement that the Contract Compliance Division will now report directly to the ICANN CEO; and the possibility of moving quickly on recommendations from the Whois Review Team. He stressed that implementation of the latter item was important.
However, Sec. Strickling also notes NTIA's concerns over the limited progress over Trademark Clearinghouse and the Uniformed Rapid Suspension (URS) policy. Larry Strickling noted that ICANN has issued an update on the clearinghouse and a request for information searching for a URS services provider. NTIA encouraged ICANN to continue to allow stakeholders to evaluate and provide input on the the information presented by the applicants. It stressed that the URS was originally envisioned as an effective and low-cost alternative to the UDRP, and encouraged ICANN to ensure that cost concerns were kept in mind throughout their evaluation process.NTIA also encouraged ICANN to not stop at the Intellectual Property mechanisms as is, but continue to explore other ways of ensuring that trademarks and brands remain safe within the landscape of current and new TLDs.
December 2012, Follow-up
On December 2nd, 2012, the US government issued a statement in support of ICANN, signed by Larry Strickling, Julius Genachowski of the FCC, and Phillip L. Verveer of the State Department. They stated: "The Internet’s decentralized, multistakeholder processes enable us all to benefit from the engagement of all interested parties. By encouraging the participation of industry, civil society, technical and academic experts, and governments from around the globe, multistakeholder processes result in broader and more creative problem solving. This is essential when dealing with the Internet, which thrives through the cooperation of many different parties... Our commitment to the multistakeholder model is based on the fact that transparency, inclusion and participation are the 21st century standards governing discussions related to modern communications. This is a view shared by many around the world and was most recently reiterated by a statement of civil society members and groups from around the world who participated in the “Best Bits” pre-Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meeting held earlier this month in Baku, Azerbaijan. The U.S. Government wishes to lend its support to the spirit of the recommendations contained in the statement."
Principles of Internet Governance
On January 11, 2012, Strickling talked about the Principles of Internet Governance in a session hosted by Darrell West and the Brookings Institution. In his speech, he highlighted the fact that the Internet is a marvelous engine for economic growth and innovation. He also emphasized that the adoption of the multistakeholder model in global internet policy making by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was a major achievement in 2011. He pointed out that the success of the Internet today is a result of the hard work of multistakeholder organizations such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Sec. Strickling explained that these organizations succeeded in resolving issues related to the rapidly evolving Internet in a speedy and flexible manner because they apply the principles of the multistakeholder process- that is inclusiveness and openness. He also discussed the challenges to the model apparent in ICANN's decision to implement the new gTLD expansion program after six years of development with global Internet stakeholders. Some entities did no accept the result of the process and sought unilateral action from the U.S. government to bypass ICANN's decision. Mr. Strickling said that he is aware of all the concerns raised by some members of the industry regarding the possibility of failure due to unintended and unforeseen consequences of the program. In response to these concerns, the assistant secretary said that he urged ICANN to resolve the issues raised by the industry, including the perceived need for defensive applications; to improve its communication with stakeholders and new gTLD applicants; consider a phased implementation of new gTLDs if necessary; consider the possibility of implementing additional protections by new gTLD operators; implement a stronger Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA); and improving the current Whois policy. Furthermore, Strickling strongly pointed out "What I did not do was demand that ICANN abandon its multistakeholder processes to deal with these concerns." He said that the call to overturn ICANN's multistakeholder process will affect Internet governance around the world and it would mean giving "ammunition" to other countries that are pushing for an Internet controlled by governments. Once again, Strickling encouraged all Internet stakeholders to step up and support a free and open Internet and multistakeholder process to ensure the future success of the Internet governance.
Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights
In February 2012, the United States government introduced the proposed "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights" as part of the Obama Administration's commitment to protect the personal data privacy of its citizens and to provide a clear guideline for companies on how to collect, use and protect the personal information provided by consumers online. Sec. Strickling strongly advocated the development of the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. The NTIA together with the Internet Policy Task Force, which was created by DOC Sec. Gary Locke, worked almost two years to develop the data privacy plans. According to Sec. Strickling, the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights is composed of "short statements of principles that will not have a lot of definition and regulation around them." The NTIA secretary is hopeful that Congress will enact the proposed legislation. He also said that "the privacy rules was the first time that the U.S. government actively applied the multistakeholder model in policy development." Furthermore, he said that all internet stakeholders will be invited to participate in building the appropriate rules around the seven consumer rights stipulated in the bill, which include individual control, transparency, respect of context, security, access and accuracy, focused collection and accountability. 
- B.A. Economics- University of Maryland College Park (1969-1973)
- J.D. Law- Harvard Law School (1973–1976)
- Lawrence E. Strickling NTIA Biography
- CADNA Supports The Multi Stakeholder Model Of Internet Governance, PRNewsWire.com
- President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts
- Why He Matters
- Lawrence E. Strickling NTIA Biography
- Accountability and Transparency Review Team Composition
- ICANN - Cartagena, BOARD Meeting with LARRY STRICKLING, December 7, 2010
- USG to ICANN Board: Pull Your Head Out Your Ass
- Keynote Remarks by Assistant Secretary Strickling at the 40th Meeting of ICANN
- Strickling Correspondence to Dengate-Thrush-Re:Cross-Ownership Between Registries and Registrars
- DOC Indicates Warming Relations With ICANN and Strong Support for Multi-Stakeholder Internet Institutions
- Governance Forum – USA, 2011 NTIA’s Larry Strickling’s afternoon remarks
- Wyden Calls for Ethics Rules to Prevent Revolving Door for Internet Domain Name Regulators
- NTIA Asst. Sec. Strickling Letter to Senator Wyden
- Department Of Commerce To ICANN: We want “A Clear & Enforced Ethics & Conflict of Interest Policy” September 28, 2011
- US government puts IANA contract out for open bidding
- Board Governance Committee (BGC) Meeting - Minutes
- Beckstrom: next ICANN CEO should be an outsider
- Approved Board Resolutions | Special Meeting of the ICANN Board
- ICANN Board Dec Minutes, News.dot-nxt.com
- Remarks of Assistant Secretary Strickling at the Practising Law Institute's 29th Annual Telecommunications Policy & Regulation Conference, December 8, 2011
- U.S. Government Strongly Affirms ICANN Model and New gTLDs; Dec. 9, 2011
- US says it will not block the new gTLD program
- US government saves ICANN's bacon
- Expanding Internet Domains, NYTimes.com
- Whats the Rush, WashingtonPost.com
- NTIA Letter on gTLD Program Jan 3 2012, ntia.doc.gov
- NTIA Letter on gTLD Program Jan 3 2012, ntia.doc.gov
- Strickling says ICANN needs a Stronger Bottom, DomainIncite.com
- Strickling to Crocker, ICANN.org
- On Eve Of Start of The ITU Meeting In Dubai, The US Makes Issues A Statement In Support of ICANN, TheDomains.com. Published 2 December 2012.
- Remarks by Lawrence E. Strickling, Principles of Internet Governance: An Agenda for Economic Growth and Innovation
- 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