Since the very inception of the internet, as we know it today, USA had a pivotal role to play including in the management of DNS (Domain Name System). However internet evolved to be more free.

However, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) — the body governing DNS — is of US origin.

Does the federal government of USA still have any powers over functioning of ICANN?

1 Answer 1


The U.S. government previously contracted with ICANN for services, and that contract gave the Department of Commerce oversight authority over ICANN.

But both that contract and the department's oversight responsibilities ended in 2016, making ICANN a fully private entity. At this point, the federal government's relationship with ICANN is more like its relationship with any other private company or individual; it can write laws and regulations governing its behavior, but it may not exert direct control over its actions.

  • As a practical matter, one might note that the US benefits from having ICANN based in the US and from having a global internet, and heavy-handed enforcement against ICANN might cause the global internet to splinter into various competing parts as regions set up their independent DNS servers.
    – o.m.
    Mar 25, 2022 at 6:04
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    @o.m. - Strictly speaking, DNS servers aren't that big a deal - it's extremely likely that each country/region maintains its own servers for their own region domain anyways (.us, .in, etc). It's also not uncommon for ISPs to run their own DNS servers (often to serve ads for pages that don't exist). And having your own DNS server is trivial to get around, too... so long as no other steps are taken to shape network traffic (like preventing routes to outside the country, a la the great firewall). Mar 25, 2022 at 7:13
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    I think what o.m. means is if the global internet splintered into competing parts such that independent DNS servers didn't consider names allocated by each other to be authoritative. The problem is not great firewalls, it's if there are three different supposed-authorities each claiming a different IP address for stackexchange.com or some other domain.
    – kaya3
    Mar 25, 2022 at 9:07
  • @kaya3 well, .com is a US domain, so it would be pretty sensible in such a dispute to change it to .com.us, but keep the rest the same - as the USA should have authority over .us.
    – user253751
    Mar 25, 2022 at 9:24
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    @user253751, but a DNS server in Russia could assign the IP of stackexchange.com.us to kremlin.ru, and everything would come apart.
    – o.m.
    Mar 25, 2022 at 14:22

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