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RSSAC Document Describes Root Server Principles

3 August 2021

Paul HoffmanPaul Hoffman, Distinguished Technologist

The Root Server System (RSS) is one of the mechanisms for keeping the Domain Name System (DNS) working, but few people understand what holds the RSS together. To help explain what they do to a wider audience, the Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC) recently published RSSAC055, "Principles Guiding the Operation of the Public Root Server System." This short document lists the 11 principles that the root server operators (RSOs) agree to for themselves and for the RSS.

The 11 principles were first published in 2018 as part of RSSAC037, "A Proposed Governance Model for the DNS Root Server System." RSSAC said that it wanted the operating principles to be the core of the future governance model of the RSS. Some of the principles apply to each RSO, while others apply to the RSS as a whole. RSSAC055 adds more context and detail to the existing principles.

We sometimes forget that things that have a long history of always working well may have a set of strong operational principles behind them. As RSSAC055 states, "A primary goal for the RSS is to support the entire Internet community by serving a single consistent root zone. To support that goal for the RSS, each RSO is committed to being neutral, impartial, and focused on the provisioning and maintenance of the RSS technical infrastructure."

For example, some excerpts from the principles are:

  • IANA is the source of DNS root data.
  • The RSS must be a stable, reliable, and resilient platform for the DNS service to all users.
  • RSOs must operate with integrity and an ethos demonstrating a commitment to the common good of the Internet.
  • RSOs must collaborate and engage with their stakeholder community.
  • RSOs must be autonomous and independent.

Read all of RSSAC055 here.

Learn More

To find out more about the RSS and how the RSOs perform their tasks, read more from RSSAC, including:

Distinguished Technologist

Paul Hoffman

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