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US will maintain control of Internet after Sept 2006

IglooDame

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Article in today's Register , and yes, the Register is a UK online newspaper that has not been particularly praiseworthy of the Bush administration in the past:

The Register said:
Bush administration annexes control of the Internet
By Kieren McCarthy
Published Friday 1st July 2005 10:41 GMT

An extraordinary statement by the US government has sent shockwaves around the Internet world and thrown the future of the network into doubt.

In a worrying U-turn, the US Department of Commerce (DoC) has made it clear it intends to retain control of the Internet's root servers indefinitely. It was due to relinquish that control in September 2006, when its contract with overseeing body ICANN ended.

The decision - something that people have long feared may happen - will not only make large parts of the world furious but also puts ICANN in a very difficult position. The organisation has slowly been expanding out of its California base in an effort to become an international body with overall responsibility for the Internet.

The US government is professing its full backing for ICANN (which it created) at the same time that it awards itself control of the Net's foundations, which will have the inevitable effect of pulling the organisation back into the US.

This is particularly relevant at the moment as a UN review of Internet governance will report later this year and indications are that the team is considering handing over elements of Internet control to a UN body, possibly the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

In fact, it is the UN report that has most likely focussed the US government's attention and prompted the statement, made yesterday at a communications conference in Washington DC.

The decision is transparently a result of the culture permeating through Washington as a result of the Bush Administration's world philosophy. In an extraordinary presentation, assistant secretary at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Michael D. Gallagher, outlined new "US principles" regarding the Internet.

"The United States Government intends to preserve the security and stability of the Internet’s Domain Name and Addressing System (DNS). Given the Internet's importance to the world’s economy, it is essential that the underlying DNS of the Internet remain stable and secure. As such, the United States is committed to taking no action that would have the potential to adversely impact the effective and efficient operation of the DNS and will therefore maintain its historic role in authorising changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file," is the first of a four-point statement which can be found here.

The second point is that world governments can run their own country-code domains (like .uk for the UK or .de for Germany). The third says ICANN should be the organisation running the Internet. And the fourth that "there is no one venue to appropriately address [Internet governance] in its entirety" - which is basically a warning shot across the UN's bows.

But what is most disturbing about Gallagher's presentation, is how it endlessly refers to the president. The first slide has a picture of George Bush. The second begins "Thanks to the president's policies, America's economy is strong". The next slide is "The president's broadband vision". The next slide leads with a quote from Bush and two pictures of him. And on and on it goes. There is barely a single slide that doesn't quote from the president.

Clearly the Internet has entered the Bush administration's vision and the resulting DoC statement - which boldly tells the rest of the world that the US will continue to run the Internet and everyone will just have to lump it - is very in keeping with how the US government is currently run.

The big question now is whether the rest of the world will be cowed. ICANN has yet to release a statement on the DoC’s surprise declaration but it knows which side its bread is buttered on and so will probably make a careful and broadly supportive statement.

The vision of a US-controlled Internet infrastructure will be anathema to large parts of the world however and it is a demonstration of the US administration’s failure to think globally that it doesn't recognise that there is surprisingly little preventing other parts of the world from creating a second Internet outside of US control.

An already fractious situation has just got more difficult.

Aside from providing the rest of the world with more ammo for anti-US attitudes, I'm not sure what to make of this.

And please refrain from knee-jerk "Evil neocons will stop at nothing" crap, I'm looking for insight, not indignant flaming.
 
There are plenty of networks outside US control, and the Internet was not even the first. What makes the Internet so global is that is was made public and adopted overseas at no cost.

I think other nations should open the gates on (and subsidise) similar networks, because putting all your eggs in one basket is pretty shortsighted and vulnerable to the policies of funny-looking chimpanzees dressed in suits.
 
I don't understand what's the big deal? Wont it be like it is now? That's fine, I mean, it works and all. That's good enough for me.
 
stormbind said:
I think other nations should open the gates on (and subsidise) similar networks, because putting all your eggs in one basket is pretty shortsighted and vulnerable to the policies of funny-looking chimpanzees dressed in suits.
In reality other nations do have their own servers, after all the internet is simply a collection of networks connecting with each other. What they are talking about here is the DNS system which translates names to numbers.
 
I can't really say I know the long term effects of this change, but it doesn't sound like I'd like them.
 
Yom said:
I can't really say I know the long term effects of this change, but it doesn't sound like I'd like them.

It's not a change, it's keeping things the same.
 
They invented it. We just use it. Just as long as it keeps working I don't care.
 
Hum.... first of all, internet can not be controlled... At least I dont see how its possible... Physically the parts are distributed worldwide, and informationwise it would tke at least 100000 full time workers to filter the information.... Well if its an other stupid and large expense for the US go for it :D
 
EzInKy said:
In reality other nations do have their own servers, after all the internet is simply a collection of networks connecting with each other. What they are talking about here is the DNS system which translates names to numbers.
I know, and the DNS servers we actually use are privately owned. The US is just being pedantic.
 
Rhymes said:
Hum.... first of all, internet can not be controlled... At least I dont see how its possible... Physically the parts are distributed worldwide, and informationwise it would tke at least 100000 full time workers to filter the information....
You really need to read up on Echelon

Basically everything that isn't hard rock protected with encryption is silently filtered and stored away in that huge "freedom" network. Big Brother isn't watching yet, but he sure is listening.

You will note that it takes virtually no numans to run it.
 
Aphex_Twin said:
You really need to read up on Echelon

Basically everything that isn't hard rock protected with encryption is silently filtered and stored away in that huge "freedom" network. Big Brother isn't watching yet, but he sure is listening.

You will note that it takes virtually no numans to run it.

Interesting.. but I mean... why filter information if its obviously impossible to get the man power to read it...? I might be getting it wrong, but this Echelon only seems to be like a more powerfull version of google..!
 
Rhymes said:
Interesting.. but I mean... why filter information if its obviously impossible to get the man power to read it...? I might be getting it wrong, but this Echelon only seems to be like a more powerfull version of google..!
Screening is made automatically and only a handful of the stuff reaches human eyes. For instance, key-words (could be Allah, Islam, certain names and places) trigger that piece of information to be sent and analysed to further check relevance. The scary thing is that this tool can be used on just about anything from "fighting terrorism" to achieving political aims or even personal aims. There is no control on the thing so it can be abused.


The DNS is a system by which these numbers like (IP adresses) 123.25.78.25 get translated into text strings like "civfanatics.com".

The system works like this: when you are online and try to contact a certain server (like civfanatics.com) the first thing your computer does is to query a server that belongs to your ISP (generally) and looks for "civfanatics.com" in their registry. If it finds it it's perfectly alright, you access the site and you can post on the forums. If it doesn't find it, the ISP server then contacts one of the servers on it's list of servers and asks for a translation of the text-string into an IP adress. If that in turn does not find it the request gets passed along furthe up. The root servers are the top of that hirerarchy. Still, the request rarely reaches the roots, most likely it is resolved by your ISP server or one very near by. These registries are regularly updated and when a new domain name is registered the information slowly trickles down to other DNS servers. That's how when a web site has changed it's adress it can sometimes take a few days for the information to reach all relevant sub-servers (the site to be inaccessible to parts of the network). In principle it is possible to bypass the roots altogether and creat a thing like "net within a net", but the way the Internet is configured today, that task would be difficult to accomplish (it's expensive to set up the infrastructure and you need some sort of protocol that is recognized by the rest of the Internet).

ICANN is a non-profit organisation that assigns IP adresses to the major ISPs and handles the domain name registrations.

So in short, whoever controls the roots controls a part of the Internet via the domain names and IP adresses, but there can never be such a thing as absolute control (luckily there are some roots outside of the US).
 
isn't that title a bit misleading, they're not controlling the internet. nobody is controlling it, and nobody can. they're just controlling DNS. no big deal IMHO, sure it would be preferable if the power of the ICANN would be distributed as well, but it isn't too high on my priorities list.
 
Unless the technology is that the root-servers use is top secret it won't change nothing. US can't opress net users in other countries cause it would lead to two 'rival' internets which would mean loss of money for all the world.
The only difference might be that net users in US will be under a similar scrutiny as those in communist China.
 
KaeptnOvi said:
they're just controlling DNS
That's the thing. Without the DNS you don't know the adresses of computers and you don't know what "anysite.com" leads to. But as I said, the US does not currently have, nor will it have complete control over the Internet. What it does have is a very strong influence on it and a potential to control key aspects of it. It has it both under surveylance (through Echelon) and a great part of the domain names are under it's "jurisdiction".
 
Aphex_Twin said:
That's the thing. Without the DNS you don't know the adresses of computers and you don't know what "anysite.com" leads to.

sure, but even if the shut down their root-servers, the system is decentralized, so we'd still be able to get most IPs through RIPE for example.
 
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