US Says to ICANN: We Are Not Giving up Root

U.S. Won't Cede Control of Net Computers By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer

The U.S. government said Thursday it would indefinitely retain oversight of the Internet's main traffic-controlling computers, ignoring calls by some countries to turn the function over to an international body.

The announcement marked a departure from previously stated U.S. policy.

Michael D. Gallagher, assistant secretary for communications and information at the U.S. Commerce Department, shied away from terming the declaration a reversal, calling it instead "the foundation of U.S. policy going forward."

"The signals and words and intentions and policies need to be clear so all of us benefiting in the world from the Internet and in the U.S. economy can have confidence there will be continued stewardship," Gallagher said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Government officials had in the past indicated they would one day hand control of the 13 "root" computer servers used to direct e-mail and Web traffic to a private organization with international board members, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

"It's completely an about-face if you consider the original commitment made when ICANN was created" in 1998, said Milton Mueller, a Syracuse University professor who has written about policies surrounding the Internet's root servers.

ICANN officials had no immediate comment.

The announcement comes just weeks before a U.N. panel was to release a report on Internet governance, addressing oversight of the root servers, among other things.

Some countries have sought to move oversight to an international body, such as the U.N. International Telecommunication Union, although the U.S. government has historically had that role because it funded much of the Internet's early development.

Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy at the State Department, insisted the announcement was unrelated to those discussions.

But he said other countries should see the move as positive because "uncertainty is not something that we think is in the United States' interest or the world's interest."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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