Has The Internet War Been Declared?

The US Department of Commerce has announced an unexpected new policy regarding the Domain Name System (DNS) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

In previous pronouncements, the US had indicated that the US would someday release its ultimate control over the "root" -- the file that contains the master list of authorized registries and thus determines which TLDs show up on the consensus Internet and who shall have the valuable right to sell names in them. That day would come if and when ICANN fulfilled a number of conditions spelled out in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Today's announcement says the opposite: the US plans to keep control of the root indefinitely, thus freezing the status quo. Nothing will change immediately as a result. But the timing is weird, coming as it does only a short time before the forthcoming meeting of the UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).