US in charge of the net till 2011

Written by Ryan Garside

August 17, 2006 // 11:45 a.m.

Tags: #body #icann #internet #ruling #us

The US has renewed its contract with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names) which will secure its grip on internet addressing until 2011.

The deal may come as a surprise for many who had thought the US was ready to hand over control when the current contract ran out in September. ICANN was formed in 1998, and has since taken over the basic maintenance of the net on behalf of the US. Its responsibilities now include:

  • Allocation of IP addresses.
  • Management of the internet root server system.
  • Generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management (controlling the location of code domains such as .uk .com and .net)

The US, which has always maintained that it will allow ICANN more independent powers, will still maintain a large amount of control. Despite the contract being in place for the next five years it will still need to be updated every year, so ICANN can't deviate too far from US government policies.

Despite this the CEO of ICANN, Paul Towmey, was in a happy mood:

"In executing this contract the Department of Commerce has confirmed that ICANN is uniquely positioned to perform this function."

What this really means to the individual is that the US government stays in charge of the basic runnings of the internet. If the US government wanted to it would have the ability to shut down the net for many countries - which, considering the amount of wars it is engaged in, is a powerful weapon.

This development hasn't sat well with everyone, though, with countries including Australia, Canada and Trinidad and Tobago all feeling a little bit aggrieved about one individual country having control over low-level internet functions. Representatives wrote:

"No single government should have a pre-eminent role in Internet governance".

Is the internet in safe hands with the US or do you agree with the smaller countries that it should be independently run? Does the internet have the potential to be a military tool? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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