How The U.S. Government Undermined the Internet?

Via Slashdot, “How The U.S. Government Undermined the Internet“:

“sakshale writes ‘The Register has an article about U.S. Government backed policy changes that have led ICANN to redeligate top level domains in such a way as to provide ‘greater state-controlled censorship on the internet, reduce people’s ability to use the internet to communicate freely, and leave expansion of the internet in the hands of the people least capable of doing the job” More from the article: ‘At that meeting, consciously and for the first time, ICANN used a US government-provided reason to turn over Kazakhstan’s internet ownership to a government owned and run association without requiring consent from the existing owners. The previous owners, KazNIC, had been created from the country’s Internet community. ICANN then immediately used that ‘precedent’ to hand ownership of Iraq’s internet over to another government-run body, without accounting for any objections that the existing owners might have.'”

You know, on the face of it …

But, turning over the country root to the country instead of leaving it with a private entity that happened to get control of it isn’t as odd or unreasonable as one might expect. For example, if I remember this correctly, the sub-domains within the US tld that are assigned to cities and counties have been offered to private companies for management, but it’s at the whim of the governmental entity. If a city objects to the entity handling the sub-domain, the private entity really can’t keep possession of the tld.

So, claiming that sovereign control of a country’s own tld should somehow be withheld from the country itself seems a bit suspect of, at best, noblesse oblige. There’s an agenda there that isn’t mentioned. The country tld isn’t owned by the private entity, really. They are just squatters if they don’t have the backing of the country for whom they manage the domain.

And since when has the ownership of domains and the private control of a registry ever been all that great a thing? The creation of the monster Network Solutions out of the corpse of InterNIC is a good thing? Well, InterNIC was not an ideal to be cheered or lauded either, but ICANN at least is an attempt to address the excess power of corporations over the naming system. They have been, sort of, maybe, at least they are giving it the old college try, taking the control of the root servers and the registries away from a centralized, single corporation. Why then does it seem odd that they would do the same for a country tld?

Also, the naming system isn’t the thing that makes the Internet work. Sure, it’s a layer that helps people, who for some reason just don’t remember 32-bit numbers very well unless they have help, connect a name to an IP address, but even if the naming system were to go down completely the Internet itself would keep routing traffic. Now, where the trouble comes is in the way that services are discovered both programatically and personally through the naming system, for example looking up MX records to route mail or the use of the hostname www to designate a web server’s IP address.

Control over the naming system can create difficulty, but it’s not the end of the Internet. That’s a bit of a red herring, because it’s the filtering and traffic shaping that’s the biggest threat, the way that the large corporations would love to balkanize the traffic they transit, creating service tiers and refusing to carry traffic with neutrality across their networks. Now, that’s a serious threat.

There are no clean hands here. To claim that the corporations are the best protectors of the Internet is completely unreasonable. It is in a stalemate between the corporations and the governments that is likely to keep the ecotone vital, that place where there is space for freedom on the network.