The operators of the Open Root Server Network (ORSN) announced last week that they will be shutting down their project. The ORSN was started by a number of mainly european operators to reduce the amount of control that the U.S.A. has over the internet:

The network coordinated by the ICANN, consisting of 13 Root-servers distributed among almost the entire world, is as far as we are concerned a high-quality and sure solution. However, the locations of the separate Root server systems are (on the basis of the development history of the Internet) very dependent on the U.S.A. Thus, everybody living in Europe depends on the fact that the connections to the Root servers are available and reachable for the name resolution.

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A complete blackout of this network is virtually expelled, but problems of completely different sort appear as well: for example in the case of political conflicts in the Near East or in Europe. The U.S.A (under the current or any future administration) are theoretically and practically able to control “our” accesses to contents of the Internet and are also able to limit them. A manipulation of the Root zone could cause that the whole name space .DE is not attainable any more for the remaining world – outside from Germany.

The ORSN servers will stop working on the 31st of december, thus giving everyone that uses them as their root two months to switch back to the “official” servers. The official reason cited for shutting down is that “during the last months/years the interest of our team shifted and we could no longer fulfil our goal of providing innovation”; fortunately, the main reasons for operating the alternative network no longer exist.

First, the ICANN is getting ready to  free itself from the US government. Second, the root servers are now spread far better; most servers are located outside of the US.