U.S. Insists on Keeping Control of Web

Such an undemocratic mean for a democratic medium. Why would any one nation retain control of Internet, which has become universal technology of our time, from rich to poor nation? Mr. Gross' inflexitlbe gesture that "certain things we can agree to and certain things we can't agree to" and his repeated assertion that "It's not a negotiating issue. This is a matter of national policy" sound like words from medieval kingpin.

Though the U.S. defense department did play its historical role in the invention of modern Internet, so did the Chinese play similar role inventing paper press, and many other nations and races with their own invaluable contributions to the progress of our civilization, from mathematics to science to art. No nation and political ideologies should have absolute monopoly on any universally used medium such as Internet. This is NOT "a matter of national policy", this IS a matter of respecting our humanity.


U.S. Insists on Keeping Control of Web

The Associated Press
Thursday, September 29, 2005; 8:59 PM

GENEVA -- A senior U.S. official rejected calls on Thursday for a U.N. body to take over control of the main computers that direct traffic on the Internet, reiterating U.S. intentions to keep its historical role as the medium's principal overseer.

"We will not agree to the U.N. taking over the management of the Internet," said Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy at the State Department. "Some countries want that. We think that's unacceptable."

Many countries, particularly developing ones, have become increasingly concerned about the U.S. control, which stems from the country's role in creating the Internet as a Pentagon project and funding much of its early development.

Gross was in Geneva for the last preparatory meeting ahead of November's U.N. World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia.

Some negotiators from other countries said there was a growing sense that a compromise had to be reached and that no single country ought to be the ultimate authority over such a vital part of the global economy.

But Gross said that while progress was being made on a number of issues necessary for producing a finalized text for Tunis, the question of Internet governance remained contentious.

A stalemate over who should serve as the principal traffic cops for Internet routing and addressing could derail the summit, which aims to ensure a fair sharing of the Internet for the benefit of the whole world.

Some countries have been frustrated that the United States and European countries that got on the Internet first gobbled up most of the available addresses required for computers to connect, leaving developing nations with a limited supply to share.

They also want greater assurance that as they come to rely on the Internet more for governmental and other services, their plans won't get derailed by some future U.S. policy.

One proposal that countries have been discussing would wrest control of domain names from the U.S.-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, and place it with an intergovernmental group, possibly under the United Nations.

Gross dismissed it as unacceptable.

"We've been very, very clear throughout the process that there are certain things we can agree to and certain things we can't agree to," Gross told reporters at U.N. offices in Geneva. "It's not a negotiating issue. This is a matter of national policy."

He said the United States was "deeply disappointed" with the European Union's proposal Wednesday advocating a "new cooperation model," which would involve governments in questions of naming, numbering and addressing on the Internet.

In 1998, the U.S. Commerce Department selected ICANN to oversees the Internet's master directories, which tell Web browsers and e-mail programs how to direct traffic. Internet users around the world interact with them everyday, likely without knowing it.

Although ICANN is a private organization with international board members, Commerce ultimately retains veto power. Policy decisions could at a stroke make all Web sites ending in a specific suffix essentially unreachable. Other decisions could affect the availability of domain names in non-English characters or ones dedicated to special interests such as pornography.


  1. reposted without permission

    The one thing that I don't really get, is that if you understand how it all works, this doesn't really make sense. I mean this isn't something that really matters, for the most part.

    A little brush up on teh Intarweb

    ARPNET was the origins of the "Intarwebs", it was replaced by the U.S. built and controlled NSFNET [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] (full transion in 1989, Military went to MILNET). All ISPs had to sign an agreement with NSFNET (1987-1995) to connect to the backbone. NSFNET was not federally controlled, it was controlled by "Merit Network, Inc" which was run by public universities. True, a good bit of funding came from taxes, but it was up to academics as to how it was used. In 1995, NSFNET was transitioned to NAP architecture, which provided much faster routing and the capabilites for more growth. Today the "backbone" [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] is a collection of commercial ISPs, a few private, and a few University controlled networks. There is little to no direct federal intervention.

    DNS [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] servers are, of course, chained in the sense that one DNS references another DNS, and DNS entries spread like viruses (lookups are forwarded). The root [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] level DNS servers (serving requests from the root). Some of them are DoD owned, and some are privately owned.

    But not all traffic is routed through the root level DNS servers. In fact you local DNS might not need to hit the next guy in the chain if he still has a valid lookup entry for your request (check the TTL, not all BIND [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] implementations do this correctly). So the traffic on the internet does not go through one space, and you probably dont hit the root level DNS servers that often. Not only that but the way DNS works, unless you hit the root server yourself, it never knows that you were making the request, all it knows is that DNS server at (or what have you) hit it.

    Basically this whole argument is kind of silly. No one really controls net traffic, perse. The root DNS servers (i.e. ICANN) do for the most part reside in the US, but because of the recursive nature of a DNS lookup, it does not really tell you what is going on (put a packet sniffer on your own BIND server and see what comes up).

    The Internet is still largely, "grass roots". It is largely peer-to-peer. The only centralized items are the root DNS servers.

    Since the U.S. gov does not really control "the Internet", why should we change that? It sounds good in a meeting to say "you control the Internet and that isn't right", but that is gross over-simplification. Nobody really "controls" the internet. If their argument is just about moving or adding new root DNS servers, that wouldn't really matter, but instead it sounds like "politics as usual", that is to say FUD./p


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