Internet Domain Names

Internet Domain Names : Background and Policy Issues

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Navigating the Internet requires using addresses and corresponding names that identify the location of individual computers. The Domain Name System (DNS) is the distributed set of databases residing in computers around the world that contain address numbers mapped to corresponding domain names, making it possible to send and receive messages and to access information from computers anywhere on the Internet. Many of the technical, operational, and management decisions regarding the DNS can have significant impacts on Internet-related policy issues such as intellectual property, privacy, Internet freedom, e-commerce, and cybersecurity. The DNS is managed and operated by a not-for-profit public benefit corporation called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Because the Internet evolved from a network infrastructure created by the Department of Defense, the U.S. government originally owned and operated (primarily through private contractors) the key components of network architecture that enable the domain name system to function. A 1998 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ICANN and the Department of Commerce (DOC) initiated a process intended to transition technical DNS coordination and management functions to a private-sector not-for-profit entity. Additionally, a contract between DOC and ICANN authorizes ICANN to perform various technical functions such as allocating IP address blocks, editing the root zone file, and coordinating the assignment of unique protocol numbers. By virtue of this contract and two other legal agreements, DOC exerts a legacy authority and stewardship over ICANN, and arguably has more influence over ICANN and the DNS than other national governments. On March 14, 2014, the DOC's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced its intention to transition its stewardship role and procedural authority over key domain name functions to the global Internet multistakeholder community. If a satisfactory transition and Internet governance mechanism can be achieved, NTIA stated that it would let its contract with ICANN expire as early as September 30, 2015. NTIA has also stated that it will not accept any transition proposal that would replace the NTIA role with a government-led or an intergovernmental organization solution. Legislation was introduced into the 113th Congress seeking to limit NTIA's ability to transfer its authority over certain domain name functions. Ultimately, the 113th Congress enacted two legislative provisions that address NTIA's proposed transition. Section 540 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235) provided that during FY2015, NTIA may not use any appropriated funds to relinquish its responsibility with respect to Internet domain name system functions. Meanwhile, Section 1639 of the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 113-235) contained Sense of Congress language on the future of the Internet and the .mil top-level domain. The 114th Congress is likely to closely examine the benefits and risks of NTIA's proposed transition of its authority over ICANN. As a transition plan is developed by ICANN and the Internet community, Congress will likely monitor and evaluate that plan, and seek assurances that an Internet and domain name system free of U.S. government stewardship will remain stable, secure, resilient, and open. Congress will also likely continue to monitor ICANN's rollout of the new generic top level domain (gTLD) program, while also assessing to what extent ongoing and future intergovernmental telecommunications conferences constitute an opportunity for some nations to increase intergovernmental control over the Internet. How these and other DNS-related issues (such as intellectual property, cybersecurity, and privacy) are ultimately addressed and resolved could have profound impacts on the continuing evolution of ICANN, the DNS, and the more

Product details

  • Paperback | 30 pages
  • 215.9 x 279.4 x 1.78mm | 127.01g
  • Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1507531214
  • 9781507531211