In all the excitement about the IANA transition, it seems that many people, including us, have overlooked a critical fact. As far as we can tell, the NTIA is only talking about eliminating or transitioning its own “authorization” function in the contract with ICANN. Apparently, it is not also talking about the Verisign Cooperative Agreement. In conversations at the ICANN meeting here, Commerce Department representatives indicated that the Cooperative Agreement was not part of the transition process.
If the IANA transition is to be what it is billed to be, namely an end to unilateral control of the DNS root by one government, this is a big problem. The Verisign Cooperative Agreement contains some very explicit language about modifications of the root. Amendment 11, dated October 6 1998, says,
While NSI continues to operate the primary root server, it shall request written direction from an authorized USG official before making or rejecting any modifications, additions or deletions to the root zone file.*
As long as the Cooperative Agreement is in force, in other words, the United States government still rules the root.
* NSI was the corporate predecessor of Verisign