IGF 2021 WS #202
Bringing the DNS Root Zone Closer to You

Organizer 1: David Conrad, ICANN
Organizer 2: David Huberman, ICANN
Organizer 3: Vera Major, ICANN

Speaker 1: Fred Baker, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Renard Kenneth, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Lars-Johan Liman, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


David Conrad, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

David Huberman, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Vera Major, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Panel - Auditorium - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

International standards: How should international standards address the different requirements and preferences of governments and citizens in different countries?
International rules and state accountability: How should international rules be strengthened to protect national sovereignty and citizens against attack by malicious state and non-state actors? What can be done to better hold nation-states accountable for cyber-attacks?

At the heart of Internet Governance, and international policy development related to Internet Governance, is the DNS root. Without it, the Internet does not function. With it, and when it runs as smoothly as it has for over three decades, the Internet functions smoothly and end users do not even know about the DNS root. Without exaggeration, it is perhaps the most important fundamental technology of the Internet.

International standards and rules can directly affect the operation and governance of the DNS root, in good ways and in bad ways. During this session, the experts will explain to parliamentarians and policy makers how the root works and what its levers of control are. They will explain how poor policy making can adversely affect the Internet’s basic level of functionality, and how good policy making can improve cybersecurity and end user privacy for the entire world.



Targets: This workshop aims to maintain the quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient technical infrastructure of the internet on a global level. This in turn enables economic development and human well-being by facilitating reliable access to information and ensuring equal opportunity and reducing inequalities of outcome. By understanding how the DNS zone functions, policy and decision-makers will be able to better promote appropriate legislation, policies and actions on local and regional levels, and to enhance global stability through policy coordination and policy coherence to preserve the internet as we know it today.


Governments around the world are increasingly drafting legislation that include components of the DNS in order to promote local policy goals. For these activities, it is essential that policy makers and parliamentarians understand what the DNS root zone is, the role it plays in how the Internet functions, which organizations operate the root, and how it is governed. Understanding these elements helps to better inform policy, which in turn, helps ensure the fundamental operation of the Internet.

This 60-minute session will help IGF participants properly contextualize the DNS root zone in legislative and governmental policy making activities. The session will feature three root server operators and world class experts on the DNS root: Fred Baker (ISC, Technical Community, United States), Ken Renard (U.S. Army Research Lab, Government, United States), and Lars-Johan Liman (Netnod, Technical Community, Sweden).

This session will introduce the DNS root to the audience by: (a) explaining how the root is a critical internet infrastructure element without which the Internet would not function properly; (b) briefly outlining how the root works and who the root zone operators are; (c) illustrating its governance framework; and (d) discussing the best ways that government policy makers, parliamentarians, and civil society can interact with the root ecosystem.

Expected Outcomes

Participants will come away with a better understanding of the critical importance of the DNS root, which will better inform their policy making and legislative activities. They will know what the DNS root zone is and how it functions, which organizations operate the root, how the root zone is governed, and how to best engage and interact with the various stakeholders of the root ecosystem.

With speakers from around the globe, this format is conducive to the hybrid format. The experts have mostly committed to be in Katowice in-person, but the format will enable online participants to fully enjoy the content and interact with the expert speakers and with other participants. Onsite and online moderators will coordinate closely to ensure that the session is truly hybrid and that participants are treated equally.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool.