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0rganism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 02:37 PM
Original message
Controversy over US control of the Internet
(sort of an opinion/editorial, but also contains much info relating to international fallout from some interesting events of the last two weeks that affect us all)

Controversy over US control of the Internet

Tech Tattle by Ahmed ElAmin

Who controls the Internet? Why, the US of course.

Despite previous promises to turn control of the Internet's root servers over to an international body, the US on June 30 announced it would indefinitely retain oversight of the Internet's main traffic-directing computers.

The departure from policy is already stirring the pot of controversy.
The US Commerce Department justified its decision on the grounds of security threats and increased reliance on the Internet globally for communications and commerce. There are 13 root servers for the global Internet, most of which are located in the US. That control gives the US the power, if it so decided, to shut down entire country domain names suffixes such as ".fr" for France, or ".bm" for Bermuda.
The Commerce Department provisionally handed over control of those servers in 1998 to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private organisation.

In its June 30 declaration, the Commerce Department formally asserts its oversight of ICANN.

"Given the Internet's importance to the world's economy, it is essential that the underlying DNS of the Internet remain stable and secure," assistant secretary Michael Gallagher said. "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."

The decision has led some commentators to speculate we may be heading for a huge division in the Internet, as countries begin carving out their own Internet space, with their own referring root servers.

Worse, the US could skew the development of the Internet toward favouring its own policies and businesses to the exclusion of others...
more at http://www.theroyalgazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AI...

additional articles:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A36852-2003Dec...
(a preview from 2003)
http://www.canada.com/technology/story.html?id=5a79e1c3...
(recent opinion piece from Canada)
http://www.wpherald.com/storyview.php?StoryID=20050706-...
(news article published July 6)

There are non-trivial implications of an internationally-controlled internet that EXCLUDES American root server information...
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MadisonProgressive Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 02:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. I guess 1984 is just around the corner...
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Minstrel Boy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 02:45 PM
Response to Original message
2. map of servers
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 02:47 PM
Response to Original message
3. the Canadian opinion piece
... Canada finds itself in a particularly difficult position on this issue. By strange coincidence, the Canadian government issued a call for comments on the Internet governance issue on the same day that the U.S. government released its revised policy. Canada has been a staunch ICANN supporter in the past, but the U.S. decision to maintain indefinite control over the root server may force officials to re-examine their position or perhaps work to identify a compromise position acceptable to both sides.

Internet governance is a thorny issue made more complicated by the dizzying array of meetings and policy documents. Stripped to the core, however, the issue is now simply about control -- control over core functions of the Internet and control over the policy making levers that impact Internet free speech, privacy, and e-commerce. With so much at stake, it's time the public starts paying attention.

Michael Geist holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law.

It's just bloody amazing what a knack the US govt has for alienating everybody under the sun. It isn't all that easy to alienate Canadians, really, but those folks have turned it into an art form.

Might makes right. That is the only message being received.

Note that the opinion piece appeared in a very right-wing newspaper. (Well, since O'Reilly pretty much called the staid, conservative Globe & Mail communist, I'm sure the more rabidly right-wing Ottawa Citizen, formerly part of the Conrad Black / Hollingsworth stable, might really be anarcho-syndicalist or something ...) At least dissenting opinions get published from time to time -- or heck, editoral policy might even support the opinion expressed.

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toopers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 02:54 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I think the message is more like. . .
stabilization makes right!
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:02 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. don't get it

Stabilization is only possible under US control?

Interesting theory, I'd have to say.

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architect359 Donating Member (544 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Not about stablilization
It really is about control over both flow and monitoring of activities.
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0rganism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:08 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. perhaps in terms of a switchover to international control
Such a period could potentially be one of authoritative flux, but I don't think this concern holds much weight. It's about power and greed and shutting off the American public's access to the rest of the world.
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:10 PM
Response to Reply #5
12. *I* know, you guys!

I said: Might makes right. That is the only message being received.

Toopers said the message was more like "stabilization makes right".

Me, I just wanted to know what that was all about.

Sounded like an apologetic for the US decision to me, but it was a little too cryptic for me to be quite sure.

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0rganism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:05 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Alienation is the unstated policy objective
It infuses so much of what the bushistas are doing. This is too consistent to be coincidence, and it goes well beyond mere isolationism. It is not enough that we be insulated from the international community, we must be taught to reject it as inferior, and treat all its component states as chattel to be insulted and abused on a whim.
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. oh, sigh, I know

Sometimes I'm just so nave. ;)

" It is not enough that we be insulated from the international community, we must be taught to reject it as inferior, and treat all its component states as chattel to be insulted and abused on a whim."

In a word, eh?

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architect359 Donating Member (544 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:06 PM
Response to Original message
7. Too much power all ready
I really hope that other countries will now consider establishing a seperate grid for global communications. Spread the nodes other more or less evenly across the world and set down guide lines that will deny any one country or region the ability to tamper or choke the information flow. Granted we did set down the backbone that carries the internet as it is right now, but it is time to upgrade both the technology and the governing ethics.
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0rganism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #7
14. Yep, the internet has long since grown out of its toddler clothes
We need a more rational and well-distributed infrastructure for the net, overseen by the international body that truly represents those who use it.
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Tweed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:09 PM
Response to Original message
11. Let's hog it and make money for our country
Sounds good.



There is the common sense argument. Please feel free to rip into it. I know nothing about this topic.
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0rganism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:49 PM
Response to Reply #11
25. Indeed. Right up until the other countries set up an independent network.
Understand, please, that the "internet" is the root servers and the backbone routers that glue together existing autonomous systems. If the international community gets fed up with the USA, they might just decide to set up their own internets, and then GW "the internets" bush will be a prophet instead of a babbling fool. Instead of having a share of the profits, we'll end up begging for international access.

There's a world outside the USA, and it will become apparent to us just how much of the world that is if and when it shuts down access to the American root servers.

In the long run, we'll end up with internet "passports" certifying and tracking our "official" packets that cross well-defined border gateways to access the rest of the world. In the middle run, the American public could easily end up with no international access at all.
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Emerson Donating Member (207 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 04:47 PM
Response to Reply #25
29. Errr
Do you understand what DNS servers are?

DNS servers are already in every country.

DNS servers only perform domain name resolution.

If you wanted to take down the net in the US you would LITERALLY have to smash every router, switch, and hub you could find. (if you organized 100,000 people to do it they might be able to finish in a few years)

Then you would have shut down the telecommunications system.

THEN you would have to confiscate/destroy satellites.

Shutting down DNS servers would not do a single thing to shut down the net. It would be a simple inconvenience because domain name resolution would be hindered.
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #29
33. did you perchance misunderstand?

What was said was this:

"There's a world outside the USA, and it will become apparent to us just how much of the world that is if and when it shuts down access to the American root servers."

I really haven't a clue about how these things work, but I have the impression that it would be possible to shut users in the US out of access to internet stuff outside the US (and vicey versey, I assume -- prevent access to internet stuff in the US from outside). I think that's what was being spoken of.

The leftover bits of internet in the US could then, if we were to get Marxian about it, just wither away. No need to get all anarchist and go smashing things.

Might not be a bad idea. Just turn the mike off, and let 'em natter among themselves.

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0rganism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 07:05 PM
Response to Reply #29
36. Oh yes, I understand quite well what they are, DO YOU?
DNS servers are dependent, ultimately, on the ROOT SERVERS for their domain name information that maps the domains allocated by ICANN (and its various franchises) to the networks allocated by IANA (and its various franchises).

The issue is NOT whether other countries will "take down the net in the US", but whether they will establish their OWN root servers and establish CONFLICTING domain and network address information with that of the US internet. That would require decoupling existing networks from American networks, which is no small effort, but it can be done if another country gets tired of hooking its wagon to the American-controlled domain structure.

Of course, as long as the telephones are open for long-distance dialing, anyone with a multi-homed computer could still connect to both networks simultaneously and potentially run a routing protocol to effectively become a gateway -- which in itself poses immense problems, and could result in further filtering of international telecommunications to avoid them.

You need to do your homework. This has the potential to be an unprecedented disaster of a new and different kind.
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underthedome Donating Member (267 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:11 PM
Response to Original message
13. Good, I'm glad the U.S. controls it. nm
nm
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0rganism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. Why? (nm)
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underthedome Donating Member (267 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:23 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. Why should I trust ICAAN? nm
nm
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K-W Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. Do you trust the US government right now? EOM
Edited on Thu Jul-14-05 03:30 PM by K-W
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0rganism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:37 PM
Response to Reply #17
22. Apparently you ALREADY trust ICANN and VeriSign et al -- Why?
Who the hell do you think the Commerce dept. franchises root server control to, anyway? Do you think your elected representatives have ANY direct say as to who receives the contracts?

Jeez.
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Maple Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. It doesn't
It just likes to think so
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Cato1 Donating Member (174 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:25 PM
Response to Original message
18. The good thing about...
...the US is that it has the most absolute view of free speech in the world. No if and buts.
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K-W Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:32 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. I disagree, it has the best constitutional protections, but
Edited on Thu Jul-14-05 03:33 PM by K-W
the current views on free speech arent anything to write home about, only a very narrow range of views are accepted as legitimate.

Our government is forced to respect free speech, our population is encouraged not to.
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Gay Green Donating Member (485 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:36 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. For now that is.
Remember, various officials of the BA have said that "we need to watch what we say."
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0rganism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:39 PM
Response to Reply #18
23. It's not the "free speech" part of the USA that contracts with VeriSign
It's the Commerce Dept. Appointed by bush, and pre-approved by the RIAA and any number of other industry interest groups and lobbyists.

Or is that what you mean by "free speech"?

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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 04:04 PM
Response to Reply #18
26. sometimes the temptation to say rude things is almost irresistible
The good thing about...
...the US is that it has the most absolute view of free speech in the world. No if and buts.


How does a geo-political entity have "views"?

Me, I'd look at things like its laws and its practices, if I were making comparisons.

Speaking of practices ... do come for a visit over that northern border of yours some day. And do drop me a line when you run across something called a "free speech zone".

When your prez visited here earlier this year, I was forced to stay behind a barricade about, oh, maybe 75 feet from the front door of the building he was in, where I stomped around and shouted rude things about him with a bunch of other people, some of whom were holding signs saying rude things about him. I guess if you want to do that, you'll have to come here.

You might also want to take a look at the Cdn constitution. It's got all the basic stuff yours has, and more.

Or, like, were you just talking out your bum?

If I may quote the originator of this thread, with feeling:

It is not enough that we be insulated from the international community, we must be taught to reject it as inferior, and treat all its component states as chattel to be insulted and abused on a whim.
Lessons learned ...

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Old and In the Way Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 04:12 PM
Response to Reply #18
27. Like at a Bush rally? That kind of free speech?
Or like information coming out of Iraq? That kind of free speech? Or do you mean our great diversity of political views that one can see on the TV broadcast networks and major cable outlets?

There is an absolute view on Free Speech today, and that view is controlled by the Republican Party.
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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 06:47 PM
Response to Reply #18
35. Here ya go! Free speech in the USA on display!

From another thread in LBN, about protesters being kept well away from Bush:

http://www.wishtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=3596206&nav=0R...



One of the posters in that thread estimated they were about 1/4 mile away, more precisely. (From where he was speaking, in Indiana.)

No wonder Bush likes to stay in the USA, eh?

No free speech zones out here in the lower reaches of the universe ...

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sakabatou Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 03:44 PM
Response to Original message
24. Scary
Oh and nice GitS pic.
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Emerson Donating Member (207 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 04:44 PM
Response to Original message
28. This is totally irrelevant
These are DNS servers. Even if you shut every one of them down the net would function just fine, except domain name resolution through those servers would not function. (in other words you use another DNS server or pure IP address)
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Stella_Artois Donating Member (838 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 04:57 PM
Response to Reply #28
31. Not quite that simple.
These are the root servers,and are quite important. It would be a large task indeed for the global DNS to be reconfigured to use a different set of root servers. There would be distruption and periods of name resolution failure, for various networks at various times.

It is doable though, there is a threshold of pain that will make people actually do it, and that threshold would be around the point where the US Government exercises its theoretical ability to remove / add TLD's against the will of the Internet community.
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Emerson Donating Member (207 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 05:24 PM
Response to Reply #31
32. Root servers are only important
in that they are the primary reference point for domain name registration. Other DNS servers (including those you run out of your house) can replace them.

If you took down the root servers other DNS servers around the globe would STILL function, however domain name registration changes would not be in sync. (likely in such an event any domain registration changes would be halted) There would likely not be any major issues for months afterwards. (as I doubt many would start changing registration info on their DNS servers with out a central point of reference any time soon)

Unfortunately dns root servers are one of the rare exceptions to the nets freedom. They actually DO need to have a central reference point and control. Otherwise domain name resolution would be all over the place depending on the DNS server and what registration they are using.

Regardless the fact remains with out a DNS server you can still connect to any site via pure IP address. A very simple matter. Contary to what many suggest in this thread, taking down DNS servers would not stop a person from visiting whatever site they wanted to.
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hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 06:34 PM
Response to Reply #32
34. I don't think the danger is "taking down DNS servers."
It's more a matter of redirecting them. Many people already see the effect of this sort of redirections in their workplace whenever their employers "block" certain websites.

Such actions would not stop a person who knew what they were doing from visiting whatever site they wanted to, but it would generally stop everyone else.

People in countries where the internet is tightly controlled do get around these sorts of blocks, but they can also be arrested for that. There are plenty of people in Saudi Arabia looking at pictures of naked women, and plenty of people in China reading political writing the Chinese government censors. But it is a dangerous thing to do.

There are people in the United States who would like to have you arrested for posting or looking at images of, say, gay porn, and these people might demand that you use of government controlled DNS servers which can be censored. Maybe they could claim such censorship is necessary to "fight terrorism."

One must always keep in mind that political and personal freedoms cannot be guaranteed by any sort of technology.
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Stella_Artois Donating Member (838 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-15-05 03:12 AM
Response to Reply #32
38. Nobody is going to go ahead and use IP addresses.
The average user isn't going to change all their favourites for the IP address, even if they know what an ip address is.

And what about those huge sites out there that use dns round robin or similar to distribute load ? All those webpages with links to other sites that use the hostname not the IP address.

There will be a LOT of reconfiguring to be done to move to a new set of root servers, all the servers that hold the zone files for the TLD's, hell every DNS server i've ever installed has the root servers on there right off the CD.

Like i said, its doable, but painful.
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0rganism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 07:12 PM
Response to Reply #28
37. You're just proving that you don't understand what's at stake
DNS services are only half the question. What they map names to is the other half. And you need to get a handle around this before you start babbling about relevancy.

Google IANA. Figure out how it relates to ICANN. Then we can talk.
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hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-14-05 04:54 PM
Response to Original message
30. For now, what Google does is more important than the root-server issue.
In my own research any information blindness I might suffer by Google's policies are far more important to me than any information blindness I might suffer as the result of U.S. "control" of the root servers.

U.S. manipulations of the root servers would be as immediately apparent as a military trade embargo -- the information equivalent of parking a warship at the entrance of a harbor. (Which is not to say the United States would never resort to such action... Wow, hey, look at that, the United Kingdom disappeared! But even on a much smaller scale than some hypothetical bockade of British websites, various people would tend to notice such actions.)

Countries such as China are already "carving out their own Internet space," as have various branches of our own government. (They have some very strict rules over at .mil and .gov so you better not get caught posting pictures there of your own naked ass. And I'm certain you need some sort of special clearence to find the stashes of child porn they must have hidden away at http://www.usdoj.gov or wherever it is they "investigate" that sort of thing.)

I'm not trying to be flippant, I'm simply trying to describe how the internet is a very fluid thing. If you don't like "THE INTERNET" and it's root servers as they now exist, then it is possible to set up your own or use somebody else's. If you don't want certain sites to appear on your home computer, then point your browser to some proxy run by a "nanny" service you trust.

Fragmentation of the internet in various international squabbles would be a very bad thing from my point of view, but the vast majority of discussions such as the one above prove to me once again that most people, especially politicians, haven't got a clue about what "the internet" really is, or even a basic understanding of how it works.
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