Posted on December 9, 2009, under Technology.
As covered on Slashdot multiple times, The world is looking to take away the control of the internet from the United States by allowing the United Nations to control the world’s DNS servers. Currently the United States “controls” the internet’s DNS servers via an independant company called ICANN, who approves of the formats used in the internet’s protocols and manages the world’s DNS servers (such as the Top Level Domains (‘.com’, ‘.net’, ‘.org’, etc) and format of the DNS records).
So why do we need a shift of power in who controls the internet? I am having problems finding the answer to this one. Suggested in the Guardian, some governments have become dependant on the internet for some of thier basic infrastructure, such as tax collection and voting. As a result, these countries have invested an interest in controlling the internet – invited themselves to the party, so to speak. Perhaps it’s because these other countries aren’t happy with merely paticipating, they want to regulate. But like all forms of regulation, it’s the private sector that makes things fun and interesting, and the public sector that makes things more restrictive and less interesting.
Case in point: The great firewall of China. Classic case of what one of these other countries can do with an american-held ICANN if they’re sufficiently motivated. This is not the situation of “Let’s invent a new way of using these old internet technologies for something nifty”. This is instead a case of restriction and blocking the message the government doesn’t want it’s citizens to hear.
So what’s the score? The United States is adament on not letting ICANN go. The rest of the world is adamant that the United States let it go.
So what if the U.S. doesn’t back down? Is the world going to have a snit and kick the U.S. out of the U.N.? What has the U.S. done wrong that it should give it up? What is the U.N. going to do with it once they have it?
Personally I think the only realistic thing the other nations do is to put together thier own ICANN-lookalikes and make thier own set of authoritative root servers. Maybe they’ll follow suite with China, and put up a set of firewalls and special routers to block certain worldwide messages the current regime doesn’t like thier people to hear.
It’s certainly nothing new; “pirate” root servers were rather prevelant before ICANN opened up some alternative top-level-domains. There will be several inconsistancies when some countries decide to handle thier protocols differently than the norm. you can imagine that will score big points, when companies based in one country can’t do business with other countries.