DNS root servers are those servers that answer requests by mapping domain names to IP addresses as and when a request is made.There are a total of 13 root DNS servers systems worldwide out of which majority are run by US based organizations and the remaining by Europe(There lies the concept of anycast where one root server can have more than one location with same IP but I will discuss that in a later post but the fact that has to be considered is that the operators of most of the root servers are US based which gives them effective control) .Most countries have a mirror of some of these root servers located within their geographic area to reduce the load on the road servers and to allow faster lookup.However there is a major issue in DNS server lookups.Unknown to us,the DNS services do log everything that we do online and also filter results based on what is apt and what is not.This amounts to violation of online privacy.Now the other major issue is that since most of the servers are located in the USA,they are subject to US laws and therefore this means that any court order would effectively be enough to monitor incoming and outgoing traffic.In addition it must also be understood that ICANN,ie the International Council for Assigned Names and Numbers which handles all IP address and governs domain names worldwide operates under licence from the US department of Commerce.This means that a takedown request for any domain name which is in another country as well should be complied with irrespective of whether the laws for that country has been broken or not.However ICANN has said that they have nothing to do with takedown requests at all.They say that it is Verisign that responds to US Govt federal takedown requests by pointing any domain within its registry,ie.. com,.net,.name etc to a US Govt IP which has a seizure notice.This has happened many times in the past.So this essentially means that if any of these major tlds has anything that does not comply with US laws it means that it can be taken down irrespective of which country it is hosted in.
Now there are a couple of solutions to this.With respect to root server censorship,one can use DNS servers provided by an open source organization called OpenNIC which believes in a democratic process of running the Internet.The DNS servers of OpenNic mirrors information from the root servers in addition to supporting additional custom tlds which are totally free.Another option would be NameSpace which is similar to OpenNic. Essentially this means that your requests go through an open source DNS service which is completely free from governmental censorship and scrutiny.The only disadvantage is that the service is provided as it is and comes with no guarantees.
Also as suggested by India is that ICANN should be brought under international norms like the UN which would effectively end the monopoly of one country over it.This is currently under discussion but has not been approved yet.
As long as these changes are not effected constant eavesdropping of personal information will take place even across international barriers.