US may delay releasing control of DNS for two more years

Dept. of Commerce hearing to decide whether to delay Sept. 30 deadline for ending ICANN's monopoly control of DNS.

Sept. 30 is the deadline for ICANN to give up control of Internet domain names, but there's a strong possibility the Commerce Department will opt to delay the handoff for another year or two, Reuters reports. The department will hold a hearing tomorrow on the question.

The European Commission was highly critical of what it called "political interference" by U.S. officials last May in rejecting a proposed .xxx Internet domain for pornography Web sites--a system supporters said would help confine and filter such sites.

The Department of Commerce scheduled the Wednesday hearing to consider "the progress of this transition" to the private sector, according to a department statement.

Currently, other countries are dependent on ICANN to maintain DNS through root servers. But under a new regime could operate their own root servers.

Tech lobbyists are arguing against a prompt switch-over, repeating ICANN's long-standing claims that central control of DNS is the best options.

"The incentive (for the U.S. to privatize ICANN) is to keep the Internet on one DNS to avoid multiple systems--much like the multiple phone systems we have around the world," according to Steve DelBianco, director of The NetChoice Coalition, a Washington policy group.

The question is, what exactly is wrong with the multiple phone systems we have now? And what would the alternative be, a single global phone network controlled by, say, AT&T? There's not much chance that foreign governments are good with that - especially since not everyone thinks the NSA should be able to monitor the whole world's phone records. Similarly, centralized control of the entirety of DNS will not hold for too much longer.

Reuters ends the piece with a telling quote from DelBianco: "ICANN needs to be as strong as it can be to resist foreign governments," he said.