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
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
“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