June 30, 2005 9:10 PM PDT

U.S. to retain control of Internet domain names

The Bush administration announced Thursday that the U.S. government will not hand over control of the Internet to any other organization, a surprise move that could presage an international flap.

At the moment, the U.S. government maintains control of the Internet's "root"--the master file that lists what top-level domains are authorized--but has indicated in the past that it would transfer that responsibility to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.

The new principles, outlined by Assistant Commerce Secretary Michael Gallagher, say the U.S. government will "maintain its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file." In addition, the principles say, the U.S. government will continue to maintain "oversight" of ICANN and prevent its "focus" from straying from technical coordination.

Gallagher's blunt announcement to a wireless conference in Washington, D.C.--just a few days before ICANN's next meeting in Luxembourg--hints that the Bush administration would like to keep the Marina del Ray, Calif.-based nonprofit group on a short leash. ICANN has become the target of criticism as its budget has zoomed upward from $7 million in 2003 to around $16 million today.

Thursday's announcement also represents an effective snub to a United Nations process that is set to culminate in a summit in Tunisia in November. One gripe of the summit participants has been that poorer nations should have more say in the way the Internet is operated.

At one level, the Bush administration's announcement is largely symbolic: While in theory the United States can influence what country codes are permitted and who will run each, it's unlikely to make any procedural changes. But the more assertive tack promises to vex nations like Pakistan and Brazil that have been outspoken critics of the United States' influence online.

About five years ago, the Commerce Department told the European Commission that "these remaining powers retained by the United States DoC regarding ICANN should be effectively divested," according to a European government report.

42 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
What do they want to do with it
What do the poorer countries want to do with the root file that would benefit them? Someone's got to be in charge of it, might as well not change hands for no good reason. I can definately agree that having more competition in the domain registrar business is a good thing, but the root file, why? The way I see it they're just complaining about US dominance, but that's not a good enough reason to destabilize things at the top level.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Poorer Country Explanation is a Rabbit
I would think that this is just a ploy. The plea of the poorer countries is not the main issue. The UN wants control of this technology. Do you trust the UN? I don't.
Posted by Collants (18 comments )
Link Flag
We did invent the damn thing!
Why do we have to give up control of the Internet - it was invented in the US...for historical reasons alone I would like it to stay within the United States - everyone knows what a joke the United Nations has become - they are a corrupt bunch of bastards that cant be trusted...oh wait, I was thinking about the French...but the UN has become problematic and has some issues that need to be worked out before given overview of something as big as the Internet - look at the issues that are coming out of the Oil-for-Food program....can we really trust them with another important...
Posted by lpbruop (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Think again
You must understand what mess US has created in Iraq for no reason. Bush is the 'evil' president of US and is the cause of 'sinking US ship'. We all know how corroupt us businesses are so stop blaming UN for no reason. Get your ducks in the row first and then blame others. Start respecting others that is what US needs to learn or else the 'end' is not too far.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
US invented the internet?
Sorry, wrong again!

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://public.web.cern.ch/Public/Content/Chapters/AboutCERN/" target="_newWindow">http://public.web.cern.ch/Public/Content/Chapters/AboutCERN/</a>
Achievements/WorldWideWeb/WWW-en.html

Arpanet might have been the first network between computers, but
the core of the internet, 'the web' and html pages were invented at
CERN. In yurrup.
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
Root File Must Stay Where It Is
The root file, for many reasons, needs to stay right where it is.
The primary reason is stabilization. There have been many
attempts, on parts of the internet, that have been made that
have threatened the vision it originally generated. It does not
matter if the corporation is a USA based one or not. Every
person on this planet knows that all corporations have their own
agendas, and every corporations' first goal is their own existence
and viability.

I am a USA citizen, and I believe a true patriot. This country has
been divided by the Bush administration, not just the world.
Remember, this is a HUGE country, not a conglomeration of
seperate countries. In that lies our power and our achilles heel,
and the course of our country, and the worlds, is always affected
by the control of whatever current administration is in power.

However, trying to politicize something as vital, and
fundamental, as the root file is just plain ridiculous, and
threatens the internet itself. Let's not mess with something so
important to ALL of us.

The foundation is the TCP/IP stack, the nodes, communications
are all the foundations that were built by ARPA. HTML is
merely a stack on top of that. HTML was the impetus for the
explosion of use of the internet. YES, the United States DID
invent the internet. No point in being stupid.

The popularity and commercial viability of the internet can be
attributed to un-praised individuals throughout the world.
These people should not be forgotten for their contributions.

God/Allah/Jehova/Zeus KNOWS that not a single corporation on
this planet would have done any good for the internet in its'
early stages. Its SUCCESS is a WORLD-WIDE effort, directly due
to the vision and un-selfish contributions of the WORLDS
community.

That being said, it would be the stupidest thing in the world to
give up the root file for political reasons. There is no good
reason to do so, and every bad reason to do so.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Reply Link Flag
pipe dream of control meets bedrock of the world order
I've predicted in response to every article about ICANN, and I'll predict it again here, that the current organization of the internet ignores the firm organization of the world order, where nation-states (i.e., countries and their governments) form the fundamental unit, like cells in a body. Nation-states control the organization of the telecommunications networks, legal framework, and linguistic boundaries of their territories; allowing a third party to control access to their publics is intolerable to any national government and most governments will gladly risk fracturing the internet into smaller internets if push comes to shove. Creating competing internets within the world wide web will only be a temporary inconvenience for most of them, since most countries would eventually accept the domain listings published by any other national government so long as their own is honored. The internet is a general idea, not a network dependent upon specific hardware provided by us, and breaking free of ICANN poses no great technical difficulty to any modern country willing to invest in some new hardware. If you want to know how the world could function with competing networks, consider the 19th-century example of the railroads, where every country used its own gauge of track in order to maintain monopolies in areas under their control, or electrical power grids, where again large segments of the world segregate themselves by voltage and hardware differences in order to maintain control of a vital infrastructure. Control trumps cooperation when national interest is at stake, so the Bush policy will only bring on fragmentation faster.
Posted by Razzl (1318 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I'll vote for...
... later fragmentation, and someone with a more practical
understanding of global politics.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Or maybe...
... I just couldn't figure what he was writing about....????
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Your theory fails, 1 main fundamental problem
The fundamental problem to your ideas is that people , say in Japan, would prefer to connect to the existing internet instead of being limited to their own country's network.

There is a huge flaw in your '19th century' example; why would anyone want to use its own guage of railroad track when there is already an existing network that is not only established, but compatible and open to the entire world?

Finally giving the UN control of the internet seems like a bad idea. How great has permanent-seat Russia or China been when it comes press freedom? Potential censorship truly on a global scale. The US has so far run the internet fine, and pretty fairly.
Posted by ShrimpCrackers (4 comments )
Link Flag
Keep It The Way It Is Now
In my estimation of things, this is a good move, a very good one. I don't trust the UN and it would be absurd to give it this technical control. I don't understand the opinion that transferring this from an non-profit entity that has an office in the US to the United Nations would benefit any human being. It would benefit the UN's pocket book when they eventually levy a tax on domain names.
Posted by Collants (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who made the internet.
Well from all that I have read the Internet that we know today was developed by many smart people from many countries. I don't much about ICANN or the national registrars, but it seams to me that the Internet is a global infrastructure. I say it is best to let those who can run it the best run it. If that is America then we should retain control, but if not then someone else should control it. Although I have to admit it probably isn't going to be the UN. Those guys can't do much of anything very good.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More than one root ...
Technically, nothing prevents DNS resolution to route to more than one possible root.

I think this decision will bring the idea of a multi rooted internet forward, and that could lead to interresting developpements, as long as people are free to choose which root servers they want for their domain lookups.

---

the US invented the internet like Louis Lumiere (a French guy) invented the motion picture camera. It does not prevent peoples from other nations from using or enhancing the original invention.
Posted by My-Self (242 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thanks for proving the need ...
The US administration thinking exactly the way you do is the reason why this fork will happen.

Looks like you (and the Bush administration) hate France, and if they act on this, they might eventually cut the '.fr' TLD or block all root accesses from there if/when the French disagree with the invasion of ... Iran. So having their own roots (or a pan-European root) would perfectly make sense.
Posted by My-Self (242 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No sense hating the French...
The French people seem to be quite nic3e, but at the
government level, the formal position is a conviction that
anything French is God's gift to the world. So the government
assumes that other people's opinions are irrelevant. And that's
fine. That distorted view of the universe is quite depandable. As
a result, countering French political, diplomatic, economic and
cultural maneuvers is no problem, should that prove to be
necessary.

So why hate the poor clods? It's a wasted emotion here and in
almost every other context. Relax, go see France. Enjoy the
scenery, the food, the art, the people, the history. Just don't ever
trust the French government to do anything other than feather
their own nest.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
U.S. to retain control
Without the US, the internet probably wouldn't exist today. They own it (damnit!), so be it. Let me enjoy, what I can, in its existing form.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Anyone question ICANN?
How the heck do they spend 16 million? On what?
Posted by kieranmullen (1070 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ICANN is good =)
ok, our goverment does one thing, and that's kicking ya in the balls after they say you can have something!, but do we really want to see the networks seperate? dosen't anyone else realize that tcp/ip would work on a "different internet" it's all a matter of dns servers, you get enough at a high level and you could split off and run your own root... it's only a matter of time, you can't keep the root in any goverments hands...
Posted by SiK CodeR (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Internet is the best gift ever from the USA
Those that hate America, you can go online and bash it all you want. Heck, even the Al-Qaida uses the internet.

Those that love America, can go online and express all your opinions about anything you want.

Those that don't care, at least appreciate this awesome resource that we here all share.

The internet is like the best gift ever from the USA.
Posted by ShrimpCrackers (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.