US retains ICANN contract

US Department of Commerce and ICANN to remain happily married for a few years to come

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been given the green light to continue looking after the technical needs of the web's domain name system (DNS) for a further five years.

But the deal, authorised by the US Department of Commerce (DOC), has raised questions as to ICANN's future as many believed that department would use the current contract's end as a prime opportunity to privatise the not-for-profit body.

This week, the contract, originally due to expire at the end of September, was renewed allowing ICANN to perform technical services relating to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function. This is closely tied to the DNS, which makes it easier for users to navigate the Internet without being baffled by IP address techno babble.

ICANN has performed IANA functions since 2000. This latest deal could see it in the role until 2011, although the department does have the option of reviewing the partnership each year, adding further fuel to the fire of privatisation speculation.

"In executing this contract the Department of Commerce has confirmed that ICANN is uniquely positioned to perform this function," said Dr. Paul Twomey, president of ICANN.

"It means that ICANN remains the organisation responsible for a range of functions that are vital to the daily operation of the Domain Name System (DNS) and hence the Internet."

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