U.S. To Keep Control of Internet DNS
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In a policy reversal, the United States plans to retain its control over the top-level domain and addressing system (DNS) of the Internet. Previously, the U.S. said it was willing to give up its control over the Internet's master indexes and root directory.
Although the Internet's 13 root servers are in private hands, the U.S. Commerce Department holds veto power over the more than 250 top-level domains, such as .com and .net.
Speaking at a wireless conference in Washington Thursday, Assistant Commerce Secretary Michael Gallagher said his agency plans to retain that veto authority despite earlier pledges to divest itself of involvement in Internet governance, eventually ceding control to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Later Thursday, the U.S. government's new principles were posted on Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Web site.
"The United States is committed to taking no action that would have the potential to adversely impact the effective and efficient operation of the DNS," the statement reads. "[The United States] will therefore maintain its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file."
The policy changed, according to NTIA, because "it is essential that the underlying DNS of the Internet remain stable and secure."
The policy statement acknowledges that other governments have a legitimate public policy interest in the management of their country's top-level domains.
"As such, the United States is committed to working with the international community to address these concerns, bearing in mind the fundamental need to ensure stability and security of the Internet's DNS," NTIA states.
The NTIA also said it was committed to continue working with ICANN, the private organization formed in 1998 to oversee the technical global operations of the Internet.
"The United States continues to support the ongoing work of ICANN as the technical manager of the DNS and related technical operations and recognizes the progress it has made to date," the new U.S. principles state. "The United States will continue to provide oversight so that ICANN maintains its focus and meets its core technical mission."
However, the NTIA statement adds that, "given the breadth of topics potentially encompassed under the rubric of Internet governance there is no one venue to appropriately address the subject in its entirety."
The NTIA pledged to "encourage an ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders around the world in the various fora as a way to facilitate discussion and to advance our shared interest in the ongoing robustness and dynamism of the Internet."