July 5, 2005

US Retains Control of Internet Directory: AP Has Hissy Fit

Filed under: General,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:00 pm

For now, the United States and not the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), will retain control over what Internet suffixes (.com, .net, .fr, etc.) are allowed.

The AP wants to see a dark US government conspiracy–note the scare words (bold), and their remarkable ability to find four critics to stoke the fears, a Japanese official (not quoted in excerpt) concerned about the need to debate whether one country should maintain control, and only one somewhat supportive person (all tagged in italics):

A unilateral decision by the United States to indefinitely retain oversight of the Internet’s main traffic-directing computers prompted concerns Friday that the global telecommunications network could eventually splinter.

“This seems like an extension of American security in the aftermath of 9/11,” said John Strand, a Denmark-based technology consultant. “People will ask: ‘Do the Americans want to control the Internet?’(#1 against)

….. But the (security) explanation did little to allay fears that the United States is overstepping its boundaries and locking its grip on the Internet, which as history’s most powerful communications tool lets people do everything from sell secondhand shoes to promote Jihad or criticize authoritarian regimes.

Patrik Linden, a spokesman for the foundation that runs the Swedish national domain .se, called the U.S. announcement “rather confrontational” but said the move was what a lot of Internet experts thought Washington had always intended. (#2 against)

…. Robert Shaw, an policy adviser with the Geneva-based International Telecommunication Union, said he understood the basis for the U.S. decision: Root servers and other address-resolving computers lower down the traffic-management chain are vital and merit protecting just as much as cities, water supplies and highways. (somewhat supportive)

“Many governments are legitimately concerned that another country has ultimate control of basically their communications infrastructure,” he said. Some countries have pressed to move oversight of the root servers to an international body such as the ITU, a United Nations group.

Though physically in private hands, the root servers contain government-approved lists of the 260 or so Internet suffixes, such as “.com,” “.net” and country designators like “.fr” for France or “.no” for Norway.

In 1998, the Commerce Department selected a private organization with international board members, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, to decide what goes on those lists.

But Thursday’s declaration means the department will keep control over that process rather than ceding it to ICANN as originally intended, though the United States said ICANN would retain day-to-day operational control.

Naji Haddad, a Lebanese owner of a Web business, believes the U.S. decision will splinter the Internet.

“The announcement will definitely drive countries and organizations toward creating private solutions similar to what is currently offered by New.net and Walid.com (alternative naming systems), which will result in fracturing the global Internet into several networks,” Haddad said. (#3 against)

In a worst-case scenario, countries refusing to accept U.S. control could establish their own separate versions of the Domain Name System, thereby making addresses in some regions unreachable in others.

The U.S. government has historically played the role of overseer because it funded much of the Internet’s early development. And while it is not known to have interfered in any major sense with traffic-routing affecting other countries, that does not ease concerns that such interference could occur.

“It’s not going to work in the long run to have the USA deciding everything by themselves,” said Patrik Faltstrom, one of Sweden’s foremost Internet experts. (#4 against)

Oh, boo, hoo. Any plans that might have existed in 1998 during the Clinton Administration to hand over control of Al Gore’s invention to the rest of the world surely have been trumped by national security concerns and the transparent untrustworthiness of the organizations and countries that would dominate any planetwide Internet consortium.

If the rest of the world wants to build its own Internet, perhaps it should go right ahead.

What would this alternative version of the Internet look like? I for one have high expectations for it–I envision a system that will have:

I can’t wait to see them try it.

This post is a proud participant in the July 6 Outside The Beltway Traffic Jam.

Quote of the Day (on African Poverty)

Filed under: Quotes, Etc. of the Day — Tom @ 10:27 am

As noted in Wes Pruden’s July 5 column in the Washington Times:

William Bellamy, the U.S. ambassador to neighboring Kenya, startled the guests at his Fourth of July garden party yesterday with just the kind of bluntness needed to keep African aid in realistic perspective. “Turning on the fire hose of international compassion and asking Kenya and other African nations to drink from it is not a serious strategy for promoting growth or ending poverty.”

On CNOOC-Unocal: A Question

Everyone who is okay with the possible acquisition of Unocal by a company that is 70%-owned by the Chinese government should have to tell us whether they would support the US government nationalizing Unocal. And if not, why not.

And, thanks to Kelo, here’s a strategy for the Feds. First, condemn Unocal’s property. Then buy the whole company on the cheap when the stock tanks (so to speak) in response.