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Memorandum of Understanding Between with U.S. Department of Commerce and Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

Published November 25, 1998

U.S. Department of Commerce transferred governance of domain name system (DNS) to the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This memorandum, released on November 25, 1998, began a process of confirming that the private sector had adequate resources to manage the DNS. On March 14, 2014, the U.S. government announced additional transitions of domain name functions to ICANN. On April 24, 2014, the NETmundial conference discussed Internet governance projects like ICANN.

Additional historical agreements and status reports on the transfer are available on the ICANN website.


Before making a transition to private sector DNS management, the DOC requires assurances that the private sector has the capability and resources to assume the important responsibilities related to the technical management of the DNS. To secure these assurances, the Parties will collaborate on this DNS Project (DNS Project). In the DNS Project, the Parties will jointly design, develop, and test the mechanisms, methods, and procedures that should be in place and the steps necessary to transition management responsibility for DNS functions now performed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. Government to a private-sector not-for-profit entity. Once testing is successfully completed, it is contemplated that management of the DNS will be transitioned to the mechanisms, methods, and procedures designed and developed in the DNS Project.

In the DNS Project, the parties will jointly design, develop, and test the mechanisms, methods, and procedures to carry out the following DNS management functions:

a. Establishment of policy for and direction of the allocation of IP number blocks;

b. Oversight of the operation of the authoritative root server system;

c. Oversight of the policy for determining the circumstances under which new top level domains would be added to the root system;

d. Coordination of the assignment of other Internet technical parameters as needed to maintain universal connectivity on the Internet; and

e. Other activities necessary to coordinate the specified DNS management functions, as agreed by the Parties.

The Parties will jointly design, develop, and test the mechanisms, methods, and procedures that will achieve the transition without disrupting the functional operation of the Internet. The Parties will also prepare a joint DNS Project Report that documents the conclusions of the design, development, and testing.

DOC has determined that this project can be done most effectively with the participation of ICANN. ICANN has a stated purpose to perform the described coordinating functions for Internet names and addresses and is the organization that best demonstrated that it can accommodate the broad and diverse interest groups that make up the Internet community.

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