US holds onto key internet role



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The US government has said it intends to maintain its role in overseeing how the internet is run.
It means the US will continue its oversight of the machines that serve as the net's master directories.

These computers tell browsers and e-mail programs how to direct traffic.

The US principles, laid out by a senior official come at a time when the United Nations is discussing giving poorer nations a greater say in how the internet is managed.

The US said the decision was in response to growing security threats and the importance of the internet for business.

'Stable and secure'

A group of 13 computers in private hands are known as root servers. They contain approved lists of net suffixes such as .com, known as the Domain Name System (DNS).

Given the internet's importance to the world's economy, it is essential that the underlying DNS of the internet remain stable and secure
US statement
This matches up numerical addresses on the global computer network with easy-to-remember names such as

The US government has in the past indicated it would transfer responsibility for DNS to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

Icann was created in late 1998 to take over the net oversight functions that previously lay with the US authorities.

But the declaration issued by the US government on Thursday means that Washington intends to retain its key role in supervising how the internet works.

"As such, the US is committed to taking no action that would have the potential to adversely impact the effective and efficient operation of the DNS and will therefore maintain its historic role in authorising changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file."

While most people will not notice any difference when they use the internet, the declaration puts the Bush administration at odds with those who want to reduce US influence on the net.

The announcement comes just weeks before a UN group is to release a report on internet governance, ahead of November's UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia.

Some countries have pushed for international bodies such as the UN to be given a greater say in how the internet is managed.

Source: BBC