The US government has renewed its contract with Net overseeing company ICANN to manage top-level technical functions for the Internet's domain name system (DNS).

ICANN has been granted exclusive rights, for no consideration, to run the so-called IANA function until 2011, although the contract is subject to annual review and renewal.

The agreement is not an extension of the controversial memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Department of Commerce and ICANN however. The IANA contract covers only the technical aspects of the Internet's naming systems, whereas the MoU covers the eventual transition of ICANN from a government-controlled entity to the private sector.

Internet users from outside the US, including members of the United Nation's Working Group on Internet Governance, have criticised the MoU, saying the relationship puts ICANN under control of the US government. The MoU expires on 30 September.

The non-profit ICANN has managed the IANA function since 2000. In February, the DoC issued a request for information on whether other entities were qualified to manage the IANA functions. The department concluded ICANN was "uniquely qualified to perform the technical functions that are critical to the security and stability of the Internet".