And the Internet couldn’t work without the regional IP registries, but they act more as nodes in the system, as technical entities, than as leaders.

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Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami, said in a phone interview. So the government—the Clinton administration, at the time—privatized control of the “root” DNS servers in a non-profit body called ICANN, which would administer domain names.

Froomkin writes about Internet law, including two widely cited articles about ICANN’s relationship with the U. This happened in 1998; since then, ICANN has operated the system. and ICANN agreed on an “Affirmation of Commitments” The U. permitted the corporation more independence, but retained its power to take over the root server in an emergency.“The Affirmation of Commitment was kind of a truce,” says Froomkin.

Since then, too, its power and independence has grown, and the U. reaffirmed its delegation of the DNS to ICANN while insisting it could step in in case of emergency. “ICANN got most of what it wanted; the Europeans and Japanese got most of what they wanted; the US gave up, you know, a He added that it entailed “very substantial but not total independence” for ICANN.

ICANN has tremendous power over how the modern web works: It’s in the middle of a years-long process to allow many, many more words than “com” or “org” to follow the dot in a web address.

That’s what the institutions do—but, in addition to having different responsibilities, each holds a different kind of of power.

That’s how some are interpreting a statement released in October by 10 organizations central to the Internet’s operation.“With striking unanimity, the organizations that actually develop and administer Internet standards and resources initiated a break with three decades of U. dominance of Internet governance,” writes Milton Mueller, a professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies.“A break” sounds severe—what would that mean? And five regional Internet address registries assign IP addresses to Internet-connected devices.

Two other groups develop the standards for how information is shared and displayed through the Internet and on the web.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) helps assign domain names and top-level domains (the letters, like “.com” or “.org,” that come after the dot).

Right now, the Internet is governed by a set of organizations with diverging responsibilities.