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An Argument For Leaving DNS Control In US Hands

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  • Legal Eagles (Score:5, Insightful)

    Well, there is one thing to be said about US control of DNS. Any and all attempts to change the system will be met with years of suits, counter-suits and legal quagmires of the n^th degree before such changes can even be discussed.

    That is of course, when it is Americans who are adversely affected by the decisions.

    • Re:Legal Eagles (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @03:16PM (#28128211)

      Each country already has control over its own TLD. They don't have to deal with the US-based root DNS servers if they don't want to. For example, if it's such a big deal, then the other countries are more than capable of setting up their own root DNS system and simply ignoring the American-run one.

      This would end up being a pretty bad deal, at least initially. IF other countries really want a non-US controlled DNS system, then the solution is not to move that control to another country or an International body. The solution is to devise & implement a fully distributed DNS system where the TLD's server in each country operate in a peering setup. Something kind of like how BGP currently works.

      Short of that, moving the root control isn't going to change anything. In addition, pretty much all the International bodies out there have a pretty bad habit of punishing other countries over political events. For example, if the UN had control right now they would probably already have taken North Korea off the internet, along several other "undesirable" countries. Notice that despite the political climate, the US has not used DNS to take action against Iraq, Iran, China, North Korea, or any other country. Notice that we did not step into the whole "cyber war" that Russia got involved in.

      That is of course, when it is Americans who are adversely affected by the decisions.

      If you changed the word "Americans" to "International Business interests", "Foreign political influence", or "Anyone with enough money" then yes, you would be correct. If you really think that decisions regarding DNS take the American public into account at all, then you are sorely mistaken, & I would suggest you take off the rose-colored glasses.

      • Re:Legal Eagles (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Daimanta (1140543) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @04:26PM (#28129601) Journal

        "For example, if the UN had control right now they would probably already have taken North Korea off the internet, along several other "undesirable" countries."

        No, they wouldn't. The UN is like a game of chess in the position of a stalement. And vote that has severe negative ramification for one country is most likely vetoed by the UN security council thus creating international powerblocks. For example, North Korea is under the umbrella of big brother China who will veto any negative resolution about NK, you can check the books on that.

        "Notice that despite the political climate, the US has not used DNS to take action against Iraq, Iran, China, North Korea, or any other country."

        Well duh. "Disconnecting" other countries has no significant advantage in these cases since other countries either tiny in comparison(Iraq), touchy(Iran with possible nukes) and juggernauts themselves(China). With that comes the fact that if the US would ever try such a thing, the internet would most likely fork because of the (justified) fear of total US control over the internet.

        It's like the powers of Queen Elizabeth II. Sure, she has a lot of powers but the second she would try to use them, all hell would break lose.

        • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:17PM (#28130373)

          It's like the powers of Queen Elizabeth II. Sure, she has a lot of powers but the second she would try to use them, all hell would break lose.

          That sounds good, but the problem is that it's quite easy to go from this to a state where the queen is briefly the most trusted person whilst others are untrusted. She is "persuaded" that she must use her powers for good and you slide into dictatorship. This might happen if a bunch of bastard MPs suddenly started abusing their expenses process, allowing claims for all sorts of things which they would never allow normal working people. You migh even find that this almost completely discredited parliament and caused all sorts of problems. Of course such a thing would never actually happen in the UK because British MPs are paragons of virtue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, there is one thing to be said about US control of DNS. Any and all attempts to change the system will be met with years of suits, counter-suits and legal quagmires of the n^th degree before such changes can even be discussed.

      That is of course, when it is Americans who are adversely affected by the decisions.

      Horseshit. Read up on the history of DNS. The only major DNS decision that affected a specific country was back in the early 90's when IP's started running a little short due to too many large blocks having previously been given out. To US companies.
      Those companies were forced to do a full accounting of their IP scopes and most of them ended up giving back large chunks of IP space, and in the process spent a lot of money on network migration and redesign.

      I'd say based on the track record the current system

  • Seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:50PM (#28126453)

    Analogy time:

    "We don't see any problem without our accountant writing and signing all the checks because we've never had a problem with it before. They're perfectly trustworthy, and so much better than -unknown entity- probably is!"

    The time to take control away from someone is -before- they abuse the power, not after. If there's a world-wide organization that can impartially handle this, and handle it well, then it should be done by them. UN was suggested, and while they are weak, they are the strongest international organization I know of that is supposed to be impartial.

    Do I want it taken away from us? Heck no. We hold all the power in this area right now. But if we're talking about fair and right, then it really should be handled by the UN rather than any single country.

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:54PM (#28126545)
      The time to take control away from someone is -before- they abuse the power, not after

      And giving it to the UN, which regularly demonstrates its embrace of corruption at every level of its bureaucracy and finances, is better because ... at least you know that domain name control will be immediately perverted by special interests and tyrants, instead of wondering if it might be, by a country with better free speech standards than pretty much anywhere else on the planet?
      • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Froggie (1154) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:01PM (#28126673)

        And yet WIPO arbitration is perfectly acceptable?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I grant you the free speech standards argument (notwithstanding free speech 'zones' of recent), but lack of corruption? From the perspective of an outsider, the American political process presents, through pork-barreling, and massive behind the doors deals, the most corrupt government of the Western world. That this form of corruption is legal does not make it less corrupt, on the contrary. Perversion by special interest groups? Again the US takes the lead with lobbyists apparently governing the country. T
    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:57PM (#28126589) Homepage
      Do I want it taken away from us? Heck no. We hold all the power in this area right now. But if we're talking about fair and right, then it really should be handled by the UN rather than any single country.

      Why is that fair and right? Looking at it from a moral standpoint rather than a purely policy standpoint, the US created the internet, and has freely and openly allowed the rest of the world access to the technology. What moral reason does the world have to gain control? "We would make better owners of your property than you."?
      • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by parodyca (890419) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:10PM (#28126833) Homepage

        Do I want it taken away from us? Heck no. We hold all the power in this area right now. But if we're talking about fair and right, then it really should be handled by the UN rather than any single country.

        Why is that fair and right? Looking at it from a moral standpoint rather than a purely policy standpoint, the US created the internet, and has freely and openly allowed the rest of the world access to the technology. What moral reason does the world have to gain control? "We would make better owners of your property than you."?

        That's funny 'cause that is exactly how I read the current state of affairs. Sorry to break it you you sonny, but the US does not own the Internet. No one owns the Internet any more that anyone could own the air we breath. It is a common resource, and the US insisting on keeping control of it is an afront to the rest of the world. Look, the US, as every other country would still control their own country TLDs so all this worry about censorship is totally overblown. The US keeping control however will simply bread more resentment toward the US. Does the US really need that?

        • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Aqualung812 (959532) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:25PM (#28127119)
          No, the US doesn't own the Internet, it just owns the rights to control the DNS servers that are currently used. Other countries are free to make their own DNS servers, or the UN can make its own DNS root. Let people choose what one they would like to use, or do a "first look at x, then y" style lookup.
          I still don't see why the US owes anyone control of DNS.
        • by Thiez (1281866) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:25PM (#28127137)

          > The US keeping control however will simply bread more resentment toward the US.

          It's part of a plan to collect a huge amount of resentment bread, then use that bread to feed the poor and bring about world peace. How can you be against that?

        • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:48PM (#28127637)

          Look, the US, as every other country would still control their own country TLDs so all this worry about censorship is totally overblown.

          No, it's not. Censorship is alive and well all over the world, and there are many governments who would love to excercise censorship beyond their own borders.

          Here's a question: if we give the UN control over the DNS system, what happens to Taiwan's TLD? You only have to look at the last Olympics to know how China views Taiwan, they weren't allowed to compete as "Taiwan", they were "Chinese Taipei". If China had a say over which TLDs are allowed, the first thing they'll do is get rid of the .tw domain so that it is effectively censored worldwide. They can block access to .tw inside their own country now, but they don't have a way to block access to Taiwan websites inside the US or EU. That would change if the US gave the UN control of DNS. And that's only the most obvious example. I'm sure Russia would also appreciate the power if they could revoke Georgia's TLD the next time they decide to invade, by claiming that Georgia is part of Russia, or maybe they would set up a new South Ossetia TLD to bolster their claim that South Ossetia is not part of Georgia.

          The only reason that it appears that censorship is not an imminent threat is because worldwide internet censorship is not being practiced. The reason that worldwide internet censorship is not being practiced is because the US controls the DNS system.

          • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by EnglishTim (9662) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:57PM (#28127815)

            To be fair, the UN is completely unrelated to the Olympics, which is run by the International Olympic Committee. You can't really use the failings of the IOC to attack the UN.

        • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sylver Dragon (445237) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @03:11PM (#28128127) Journal
          You're partly right, the US doesn't own the internet. The US does, however, own the DNS servers which most people on the internet choose to rely on. Why does the US own them, well it was DARPA who went through the initial trouble to get the whole thing running and then it worked it's way over to the hands of the US Department of Commerce who contracted ICANN to run the whole thing.

          Now, why should the USDOC hand them off? If other countries are really that worried about the US using them as some sort of club, it's actually pretty easy to setup alternative DNS servers. As a matter of fact, if you don't like ICANN's handling of DNS, you can always turn to an alt root [wikipedia.org]. To be blunt, if the UN is really that hot to run DNS on the internet, there is nothing stopping them from setting up a set of UN alt roots and offering them to the world as an alternative to ICANN. The competition between ICANN and the UN would probably be good overall. But then, there I go with the boorish US, let the free market decide mantra.
    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:57PM (#28126607) Journal

      Do I want it taken away from us? Heck no. We hold all the power in this area right now. But if we're talking about fair and right, then it really should be handled by the UN rather than any single country.

      Well, he's afraid of censorship--at least after reading the first page and scanning the second that's what I gather. Specifically something like a Muslim nation or organization forcing domains with "Mohammad" in them to be automatically rejected or some such nonsense.

      That said, he conveniently ignores any attempts for it to happen in the US [wikipedia.org]. And on top of that he doesn't have a real grasp on how actual country by country censorship works today. I mean, it's happening in Thailand occasionally with blocking YouTube on the ISP level or last week with Facebook in Iran. I mean, those things should be done at the ISP level with local law enforcement to stop it.

      I say if we hand it over we do so on the condition that certain things stay the way they are. One being that you can't censor a domain but you can allow country by country to force their ISPs to obey whatever stupid law their government enforces. Let their constituents complain.

      No one has presented to me a definite argument one way or the other.

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by neomunk (913773) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:58PM (#28126615)

      So what about the International Telecommunication Union? Has the ITU ever had any political disputes that were leveraged over a certain party?

      It seems to me (though my perspective is limited) that the telephone network is pretty well internationally compatible. And on the topic of politicization, what ever happened to the .sex or .xxx domain? I thought that was a great example of politic butting its nose into the internet.

      • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stephanruby (542433) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:22PM (#28127075)

        So what about the International Telecommunication Union? Has the ITU ever had any political disputes that were leveraged over a certain party?

        Well yes, the ITU doesn't like the fact that people can make phone calls over the internet, and it wants to stop that.

      • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ghostworks (991012) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:34PM (#28127331)

        The .xxx and .sex refusals were political, but in a grander sense than you indicated. The Bush administration didn't want them because it seemed as if it was giving a electronic blessing to smut (and mostly because the constituency that got them elected actually does hate smut). Some parents and filtering organizations speculated it would make porn easier to filter, and most of the porn industry opposed it because they believed they would ultimately be forced to move to such a domain, which would marginalize their businesses by shunting them off to an internet red-light district. All this debate is completely independent of what kind of content actually belongs in such a domain.

        It failed for the political reason that pretty much no one actually wanted it.

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Diss Champ (934796) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:59PM (#28126633)

      When it comes to "fair and right", the UN is usually a massive fail.

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MasterOfMagic (151058) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:01PM (#28126669) Journal

      Then it's simple - have an international NGO mirror the root servers and at the first sign of any tomfoolery, announce that people should use their root servers. Bonus points if they can keep from censoring.

      But if we're talking about fair and right, then it really should be handled by the UN rather than any single country.

      Is that the same UN that always has its actions paralyzed by the US, China, France, UK, and Russia? The same UN that allows countries to send illiterate and untrained peace keeping troops in exchange for money? Or is it the one whose peacekeepers have a history of rape and murder? Or the one that's standing idly by while the Chechens are being slaughtered by Russia, the Palestinians being slaughtered by Israel, or the massacre in Darfur is going on?

      I'm not saying the US is the shining example of what is right and good (torture, rendition, illegal wars, warrentless wiretapping). I'm just saying that the UN has its problems as well.

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Morphine007 (207082) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:04PM (#28126707)

      But if we're talking about fair and right, then it really should be handled by the UN rather than any single country.

      No. It should be handled by an organization with a demonstrable history of not fucking things up in the name of censorship. Unfortunately, such a beast does not exist, and insofar as the "choose the lesser of the evils" mantra goes, your country seems to be doing a solid job.

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aquitaine (102097) <sam AT iamsam DOT org> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:04PM (#28126715) Homepage

      The time to take control away from someone is -before- they abuse the power, not after. If there's a world-wide organization that can impartially handle this, and handle it well, then it should be done by them.

      That's a very interesting suggestion. It sounds like you want thought police.

      How about 'the time to punish someone is after they've done something wrong, or when in possession of ample evidence that they are in the process of doing something wrong.'

      The notion that the UN is impartial is a far-fetched one, though perhaps no more than the notion that the US is. The article is making the case that, whatever US government's current agenda, they have thus far been apolitical, refusing to get involved in exactly the kind of murky questions that the UN loves to deal with. You don't hear the US going around threatening countries with which it has disagreements to pull the plug on their TLDs.

      I'm no expert on the subject and would be happy to read an argument to the contrary, but I do accept the premise of Rabkin's thesis, which seems to be 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'

      So let's a) see some cases where the IANA was in the wrong in such a manner that its status as subject to the Department of Commerce bears responsibility, and b) see some convincing evidence that the UN would do a better job.

      The chief problem I would have arguing in favor of a UN solution (which, in theroy, I agree sounds like the best one) is that you cannot be 'impartial.' Deciding on cases of civil war or Taiwan vs. China cannot be done without value judgments. Obviously it's possible for any national government to make biased value judgments (one might even say that it's necessary some of the time) because they are elected/appointed/whatever to serve their own people. It just so happens that, in the case of the IANA, we've taken what appears to be a relatively hands-off approach where, rather than try and make impartial judgments on everything, we either don't make judgments (see TFA's comments on referring most matters to national courts) or make purely technical judgments.

      Like anything else I'm sure there's room for improvement. I'm not convinced that the IANA or the US Department of Commerce deserve pre-emptive sacking just because they're the US DoC and IANA.

    • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:37PM (#28127393)

      The time to take control away from someone is -before- they abuse the power, not after.

      So innocent until assumed to be guilty at some unspecified later date? Awesome!

      UN was suggested, and while they are weak, they are the strongest international organization I know of that is supposed to be impartial.

      The UN? Home of the Human Rights Council lead by Yemen that wants to globally censor any criticism of Islam (see the anti-blasphemy resolution 62/154)? The same UN that elected Sudan, home of the Darfur ethnic cleansing, to a human rights commission?

      Weak? You jest! Why when the specter of genocide appears on the Earth, the UN rushes in an observer who stridently and immediately issues a report! Take that, evil doers!

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stephanruby (542433) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @03:25PM (#28128433)

      The internet as we know now is already the "renegade internet", that's why it became so successful in the first place. I left France to come to the United States in 1987. By the time I left France, almost every French household had a network computer in it. It was called the Minitel and one year it was handed out for *free* instead of phone books. When I say this to Americans, I'm not even sure they can imagine the massive scale of what I'm talking about.

      In any case, my point is that at least, some countries had their chance at building the internet (as we know it now), and in the case of France they can at least claim an extremely high penetration rate -- with an extremely rich set of features -- very early on, but the thing is that France completely messed up their own efforts in that regard.

      The Minitel was centralized. People could develop on its network, and they could make money on it, but before they could publish anything -- they had to get permission. It was very much like publishing an app for the iPhone. The French government had done a great job, it had invested a great deal of money, but it just couldn't let go of wanting to control everything. You can rest assured that if they had been willing to let go, just a little bit, it would have become the Internet at the time -- dominating the arpanet (but they simply chose not to go that route). And still to this day (I am french by the way) French politicians talk of controlling the Internet, censoring it, banning people from it, etc. -- all for the good of the people of course, but not clearly understanding what the Internet is really about.

      So as a French citizen, I say no. Don't do it. The Internet grew out of a fertile soil. It could have grown elsewhere, but didn't. Transplanting its roots now could potentially cause some irreparable damage. Do not take the risk.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Actually there have been complaints about how ICANN has run things including some cases where there were disputes about who was the rightful group to handle CC TLDs. In some cases ICANN used these disputes to gain leverage over the parties running the affected CC TLDs.
    The guy who wrote the article clearly hasn't done his homework.

    • by Froggie (1154) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:05PM (#28126725)

      To add to those complaints with an economic one, why should it be that registration fees for .com, .net, .org and friends should be funnelled into the US economy? There have been many complaints about the monopoly powers effectively granted to the keepers of .com from within the US. (And no, .com is not a US-specific domain. .us is.)

  • Why mess with it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0racle (667029) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:51PM (#28126469)
    Why mess with what is working? Honestly, the US has shown no real heavy hand in managing DNS, why break it now?
    • by Manip (656104)

      Because some thing that work aren't "fair." Like monopolies for example...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      Honestly, the US has shown no real heavy hand in managing DNS, why break it now?

      Because the US is the country that everybody loves to hate. Here's hoping that China becomes a global superpower sooner rather than later -- then people will hate them too. Maybe they'll even come to realize that the US wasn't so bad afterall, in spite of our flaws.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Maybe they'll even come to realize that the US wasn't so bad after all, in spite of our flaws.

        No, most of us who routinely "bash" the US know that already.

        Where people such as yourself get confused is when we reply to some typical asshat who, perspective-free, claims some kind of superiority, either real or imagined, like those who subscribe to whatever warped "Manifest Destiny" meme is floating around the jingosphere at any given time.

        Then there's also the relative of your own comment, which will
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Maybe they'll even come to realize that the US wasn't so bad after all, in spite of our flaws. No, most of us who routinely "bash" the US know that already. Where people such as yourself get confused is when we reply to some typical asshat who, perspective-free, claims some kind of superiority, either real or imagined, like those who subscribe to whatever warped "Manifest Destiny" meme is floating around the jingosphere at any given time.

          Manifest Desitny? Surely you jest. That old schtick is over a hundred years old, no one believes in that anymore, and it was never relevent outside our slice of the northwestern hemisphere anyway. "Containment", the policy of the Cold War, was something else.

          I don't see that many "typical (Amercian) asshats" claiming any sort of superiority, honestly, I see a hell of a lot more of that attitude coming from the EU, than the US, usually in terms of "intelligence", scope, geography or history.
          I thi

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Shakrai (717556)

            Unfortunately (for the US), it'll be in restrospect, because China or some other eastern or mideastern country will rule the world.

            They won't rule the world anymore than the United States currently rules the world or the UK ruled it a few decades ago. They will be an economic force to be reckoned with and will have the military might to back up their interests but we'll still be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

            Democracy has seen pretty dark times before and managed to survive. And that was before the advent of nuclear deterrence. I don't think we are going anywhere.

    • Re:Why mess with it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ChaosDiscord (4913) * on Thursday May 28, 2009 @03:18PM (#28128299) Homepage Journal
      Because the rest of the world doesn't trust us. And understandably so. Not because we're bad, but because we're powerful and out of their control. This is why many people are so angry about the warrantless wiretaps, because it is a powerful force out of the population's control. Sure, it may be being used for good today, but you have no guarantees about the future. DNS control is in the hands of the US government, which indirectly puts it in the hands of the US voting public. And as best they can tell, we're all insane. (It's fair, though. I look at their elections and conclude they're all insane, too.) So, the rest of the world sees the potential for abuse by an entity entirely out of their control. So they want to try and establish control. This is not unreasonable on their part.
  • agreed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xtravar (725372) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:52PM (#28126487) Homepage Journal

    Do we really want the internet domain system to turn into a larger bureaucracy fuckfest? Let anyone who has a problem come up with their own competing DNS hierarchy, a la OpenDNS.

    • > Let anyone who has a problem come up with their own competing DNS hierarchy, a la OpenDNS.

      Erm, OpenDNS has nothing to do with this. OpenDNS uses the existing root servers - the existing hierarchy - for name resolution. Then, they apply big blacklists and transformations to the bulk of the data. Typing in a slightly wrong domain will be auto corrected and bounced to the proper domain, "bad" domains (malware, etc) are blocked, and questionable content can be filtered.

      (In fact, it is these very same practices that have got quite a few ISPs in trouble with their customers. Verisign pulled the same stunt with the .com TLD some time ago, and caught unbelievable crap for it. Why some people love OpenDNS but hated on Verisign for that I'll never know or understand.)

      It has NOTHING to do with root DNS control. It depends upon the existing infrastructure, and does little more than sanitize it. They don't handle domain registrations, TLD management/control, and they don't manage authoritative nameservers for their customers domains.

      They are, in fact, not a competitor in any form, but instead they are quite dependent upon what we already have in place. This has absolutely nothing to do with OpenDNS in any reasonable way I can think of. They are absolutely not a "DNS hierarchy" as you would imply.

    • Do we really want the internet domain system to turn into a larger bureaucracy fuckfest? Let anyone who has a problem come up with their own competing DNS hierarchy, a la OpenDNS.

      I either misunderstand your point, or you greatly misunderstand OpenDNS.

      I'm no expert on DNS infrastructure, but I do understand the basics. OpenDNS appears to be a "free (beer)" set of DNS servers, not an "alterate DNS hierarchy." OpenDNS conisders the same machine names authoritative for .com, .net, .org, etc., that everybody else does-- which is, of course, the infrastructure this article is talking about.

      If that's not the case, please explain-- and I'll be sure to be using a different set of DNS servers

  • by line-bundle (235965) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:53PM (#28126505) Homepage Journal

    I have a hard time seeing how the arguments convince anyone other than Americans that it is a good idea. It is a self praising article on how good the US is written by an American in an American magazine.

    If the US did not have control of DNS then would the arguments convince anyone to hand the control to the US? No.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:53PM (#28126517)

    We're generally impartial and if we ever make a mistake we'll apologize for it.

    Actually, even if the mistake isn't our fault, we'll apologize anyway. That's the Canadian way.

    • Give control to France.

      They'll surrender control to the first party who asks nicely.

      (Sorry. Just kidding. I have seen the crosses. Sadly, I can't remember all the names on them.)

  • by superwiz (655733) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:54PM (#28126539) Journal
    It would give some international body actual enforcement power over something. Up until now they only have the power of rhetoric and proclamation (even if they are "binding"). This would create a mechanism for them to actually enforce penalties against non-complying (insert blank here). Given that the international relations are always (by definition) nothing but politics, this would have almost immediate chilling effects on free speech on the Internet.
  • I dunno... Coast Guard?

  • Speculation... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Manip (656104) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:54PM (#28126549)

    The article makes vague speculation about what could potentially happen but neglects to consider that it is the US's ball to hand off.

    So if the US wants certain terms (e.g. Freedom of Speech) met when it hands it to an international body they have the leverage to get it.

    As far as the "US has never done anything bad with domain names" thing that is bull. The current system basically gives any company with enough money any domain they want and let's not forget the insane anti-gabling domain grab recently.

  • Subject says it all; The very concept of name resolution would seem to require centralization, but I'm just praying that there's someone out there who is sufficiently smarter than me to have figured it out or sufficiently well-informed that they know of some potential solution, yet who is bored enough to be here to tell me about an alternative.

    • Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @03:19PM (#28128317)

      While you can never have a totally decentralized, as in each client on the Internet is equal, thing you can have it so there are multiple authorities at each level, each responsible for their own little slice. That's already the case with DNS at the low level. Your DNS servers are the absolute authority for your computers. Whatever they say, goes. If you don't like an answer they get from somewhere else, you can change their configuration to override that. However they are the authority only for those that choose to use them. They aren't the authority for me, I don't use them.

      Now going up the chain you get to the top which is the root zone, which ICANN controls. The reason it is authoritative for most of the Internet is because it is what the root-servers.net roots trust and most DNS servers trust them. What it does is specify who is authoritative for a given domain. So for .ca it points to the CIRA's servers, as an example. What could happen is the root zone could be split. Different organizations would maintain different parts of it, and then the roots would use those to determine who is authoritative for what domain.

      So the proper response to the US's control isn't to whine, it is to make your own. The EU should form EUCANN. Get that running, initially just mirroring the ICANN root zone, get your own root servers up and running that trust EUCANN. Then, contact ICANN about splitting the zone. They take the EU part, ICANN keeps the rest. The US might be amenable to that. Now repeat that process for all sorts of different regions. Have a bunch of top level organizations, each responsible for small parts of DNS space that then give their changes to others and run their own roots.

      You'd end up with a system that no one person/country was in charge of. You'd also end up with a system that if one person flipped out, it wouldn't matter to the rest. Let's say that ICANN goes nuts and decides to get rid of all domains but .us and .com. Ok fine, well the other organizations would just ignore their changes. The roots that trusted ICANN would do as they wanted, but the other roots would not. ISPs could then use the non-broken root servers. The damage could be routed around.

      The problem is that's not what the international community wants. They want the US to hand over control of infrastructure they built, so that the UN or someone like that can have central control. They don't want to have a system where they have control over their area, they want to be able to control other people too.

  • by Kensai7 (1005287) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:55PM (#28126557)

    The Internet should be administered by an international body.

    I understand that many Americans want to keep their hands on the project their country invented and advanced, for security or productivity reasons, but the Internet has been so successful because of the international networking it helped achieve.

    Otherwise here in the EU we would have used the French standard and I would have posted a similar silly post to the "La BarreObliqueDot"...

  • by spydabyte (1032538) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:56PM (#28126581)
    If there's any kind of central control point in a global architecture, then it's not truly global. Any single governing body (or even a group) will be controlled or dominated by at least one country. Then it becomes a national architecture. I'm all for a different solution, where the industrial model gets broken down and a web of trust gets established. Sure there are issues with a web of trust, but they can be solved with time and money.

    I'm personally surprised that there isn't more issue with BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) and it's dominance over the network of networks. I think there's a lot more direct and immediate control there than with DNS.
  • by DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:56PM (#28126583)
    It's interesting that a lot of fiction scenarios assumed that the global network would be completely decentralized.. and therefore not subject to anyone's control. This utopian illusion is fading away.. because in reality the global network is just a series of cables, and yes, they pass over political borders. I think it is pretty inevitable that the global network we take for granted is going to change drastically, as every country attempts to enforce their particular political and moral stance on the information passing over their borders into their country. It is quite likely that in the not too distant future the internet will be quite a different experience from continent to continent, nevermind from one country to another.. it's already happening..
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mindstormpt (728974)

      You probably didn't get the memo, but it's not a series of cables but a series of tubes. It's a slight difference, but a critical one too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spydabyte (1032538)
      The only fiction I know of is about "elite hackers". The difference I see here is that any kind of control can always be evaded. Isn't it a core concept of crypotgraphy that as long as a public channel exists, private communication is always possible? With that in mind, it's easy to see that any kind of filtering or protection governments use will and always can be thwarted by the small "elite".

      Now, do the governments / huge corporations really care about these corner cases? No, Napster wasn't a threat unt
  • Big Assumption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:05PM (#28126719) Journal

    The United States could, in theory, set up a renegade, uncensored Internet. But there would likely be significant public distrust, substantial political acrimony, and a great deal of hesitation. We are better off keeping the public Internet free and leaving the social and technical burdens on governments that want to censor. The present system is thus perhaps the best way to prevent the naming system from being used to chill online speech worldwide.

    The only problem with his morass of assumptions about freedom is that America does want to censor the internet.
    A long time ago Feinstein tried to ban bomb making instructions on the internet, then there was the Communications Decency Act (unconstitutional), followed by the Child Online Protection Act (unconstitutional), ending with Children's Internet Protection Act which the Supreme Court eventually declared Constitutional because it was vastly narrower than its predecessors.

    There's other legislation I'm leaving out, but you get the idea.
    /And God helps us all if the **AA's of the world get their way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by amicusNYCL (1538833)

      That's an interesting example. In trying to show how the US wants to censor, you give 3 pieces of legislation that did not succeed because they did not pass constitutional muster. 3 examples of things politicians wanted to see happen, but upon closer examination, before they had a chance to get implemented, cooler, more sane heads prevailed.

      Politicians might want to censor this or that, but that doesn't mean their proposals get put into law. That's sort of the point we're talking about here, that the US

  • by bzzfzz (1542813) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:07PM (#28126759)

    TFA raises a valid point but overstates the case. ICANN's work is indeed politicized, and one need look no further than the disparate fates of the .sex and .info TLDs to see that. On the other hand, it's hard to believe that something run by the U.N. would be any better.

    In reality, though, DNS has lost much of its original importance. This becomes clear when you consider that all but a handful of Alexa's top 20 sites [alexa.com] have names that have no real connection to the business. They're just rarely used words that lack much meaning in everyday life (Google, Amazon) or entirely made up (wikipedia, ebay). There are already alternative public root servers [wikipedia.org], and while these lack popularity, it shows how easy it would be for a distributed naming system to gain a foothold.

    The real outcome of handing the rootservers over to an international committee would be to hasten the day when there is no longer one unified DNS, a day we'll probably see before too long anyway.

  • Just google the .xxx extension and why we don't have it yet. Seriously and I know this will offend some people, but the internet and the DNS is of too much importance to be in the hands of 1 party. What if the USA goes berserk, something that from an European point of view is totally possible, and they pull the plug? They should not have this power in the first place.
  • by nighty5 (615965) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:17PM (#28126963)
    What a load of hogwash.

    If USA were truly pro-free speech they would of permitted the implementation of .sex and .xxx namespaces.

    Its nothing to do with what I think about porn, it has a practical use that allows people to quickly identify with the subject matter and to allow software to classify it as so.

    The conservative government simply did not want this to happen, and they have successfully lobbied hard to stop these practical namespaces to be implemented.

    Creating an Internet wasteland of "filth" may have some merit, but I highly doubt it will lead to an increase in people watching it. Most large, modern cities have "saucy" areas, but just because they are there doesn't mean every citizen visits everyday.

    I still believe this process needs to be apolitical as noted, without government intervention - its the only way. I do not accept that the US has a higher ground than other forward thinking countries in this matter.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I would offer the following argument. I think the creation of a .sex or a .xxx namespace will promote censorship rather than free speech. Once you create such a namespace, there will be strong pressure to migrate such content from the .com, .net, etc namespaces to the new naughty namespaces. It is the internet equivalent of a "free speech area." Once you create a .xxx/.sex namespace, why not create a .political, .nepal or .wariniraq etc TLDs?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cajun Hell (725246)

      If USA were truly pro-free speech they would of permitted the implementation of .sex and .xxx namespaces.

      The US does permit the implementation of .sex and .xxx namespaces. IANA simply hasn't done it, because ICANN has decided they don't want those namespaces within their big namespace. But you can set one up today and you won't be breaking any laws. Go for it.

      After that, negotiate with a root server to make you the authority for .xxx. If none of them will do it or you don't happen to like their terms

  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:20PM (#28127039) Homepage

    Political questions like "Who is the rightful government of Pakistan?" are settled by the U.S. Department of State.

    Nope, I can't see anything wrong here. Everything is as it should be. Move along, citizens.

  • by Spazmania (174582) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:22PM (#28127067) Homepage

    Internet domain names (such as www.google.com) are managed hierarchically. At the top of the hierarchy is an entity called IANA, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, operated on behalf of the Commerce Department.

    Not correct. ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is under contract to DOC. ICANN has two components: control of the DNS root and control of the IANA. IANA, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority deals only with numbers: IP addresses, protocol numbers, AS numbers, port numbers, etc. IANA is almost completely unrelated to the DNS.

  • by RomulusNR (29439) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @03:20PM (#28128321) Homepage

    After reading his piece, I have a hard time arguing that it should be handed over to some international body.

    That's because, like him, you're a nationalist xenophobe.

    I mean, the argument boils down to this: America has the First Amendment, therefore we are the only entity capable of not censoring the internet via withholding access to an arbitrary (though ubiquitously popular) namespace. The insinuation is that other countries do not have the First Amendment and therefore, all of them collectively would present the possibility of such (questionably effective) censorship.

    Well, how does this argument stand up against the real (though non-American and therefore unreliable) world? Let's take the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights:

    Article 19.

            * Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    Well, that's just a UN Resolution with no binding effect, and only reflects a general sense of the body rather than something they all commit to, right? As Rabkin says, "Most countries lack our First Amendment tradition." Well, let's take the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty that 150 countries signed 30 years ago:

    Article 19

          1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
          2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

    But none of these statements ensuring freedom of speech compare to the sheer Holy Writ that is the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    Many other First World countries already have government-imposed restrictions on Internet speech that we would not contemplate here.

    Because the United States has never [eff.org], ever [gpo.gov], ever [earlyamerica.com], contemplated restrictions on free speech [wikipedia.org], proving just how trustworthy we are with the world's speech. Of course, Rabkin does not offer any specific examples of un-contemplatable restrictions on speech imposed by other First World nations, nor does he bother to prove the point that the U.S. has never done anything similar (because he can't).

    Nor is he at all concerned with people in other countries who may also enjoy free speech, including speech that isn't legal in the United States -- the compelling need is not to ensure the freedom of the world's people, but as he makes clear: "If we wish to protect the free speech rights of Americans online, we should not allow Internet domain names to be hostage to foreign standards." Aha! It's the bogeyman of "foreign standards", which all good Americans rightly fear, because they are all, by virtue of being foreign, simply inferior to our own standards (whatever they may be).

    But what disgusts me most about Rabkin's screed is that someone capable of putting his name on something so baseless, undefensible, xenophobic, fear-mongering, and full of straw-man arguments, was accepted to a doctoral program, and printed in a major magazine. Of course, it's The Standard, what did I expect? Not well-thought out global technology pieces, that's for sure.

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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