Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

The internet is doing nicely without its own UN

Filed under
Web

Who runs the internet? Who cares? As long as your internet browser sends you to the right location in cyberspace, the technical workings of the World Wide Web aren't really of much concern. Right?

For web users that's right, but for governments and technology bodies around the world, there's a brewing concern about the fact that most of the infrastructure that powers the internet is based in the United States. Of the 13 servers hosting the intricate system that directs us all to the right places on the internet, only three are based outside of the country.

So far that hasn't proven to be any problem.

A bunch of benevolent American university boffins, some military types and a few IT visionaries from the private sector were primarily responsible for getting the network now known as the internet off the ground in the 1970s. They are legends for doing so and have kept a close eye on the internet's development ever since.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Addresses (ICANN) is the web's current babysitter. But for a technology body, it courts a fair amount of controversy.

The reasons for that are political and commercial. Remember the "internet land-grab"? It kicked into high gear during the dotcom boom as corporates scrambled to reserve the best domain names. The current animosity towards the US-dominated ICANN is a lot like that. No one knows what the future will hold for the internet - and countries, especially developing ones such as India, want a say in how the web will work years from now.

The scenario has played out in the real world since time began. All those conferences of the "big three" (Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin) that took place toward the end of World War II, were to decide how to carve up control of post-war Europe.

It was a delicate game of give and take. Stalin was happy to abandon the communists in Greece for a bigger prize - dominance in Romania and Poland. Churchill, wanting to counter the power of Russia, demanded the French get a controlling slice of the new Germany.

They also talked about setting up a governing body for the world - the United Nations. Now, that same body is facilitating the debate about the delegation of power on the internet. Unable to agree on a single scenario for governance of the internet, a special UN body has drawn up four.

Option one is for the United Nations to create a "global internet council" that would take total power away from the United States in terms of its control of ICANN.

A more radical plan calls for control of the address system to shift from US to international hands - a new body called the International Internet Council.

Yet another plan calls for the creation of three groups that would be responsible for internet addressing. That sounds like a political and logistical nightmare.

The last option, and perhaps the most sensible, is to leave ICANN intact and simply create a forum for greater debate of net issues.

A long-term, official solution will be hammered out at the UN's World Summit on the Information Society, which will be held in Tunisia in November. It will consider taking up one of the proposed options.

Expect there to be some heated debate and intense lobbying as the future controllers of the internet are elected.

None of this would be an issue, were it not for a couple of ominous signs that the United States is willing to fight like hell to maintain the status quo.

Earlier this year, the US Department of Commerce said it planned to keep its hands on the "root zone" file, a simple text file that's integral to this system of turning internet protocol (IP) addresses into actual web addresses.

Apparently the United States "intends to preserve the security and stability" of the web's architecture and needs to keep control to do so.

On top of that came word last month from US Assistant Commerce Secretary Michael Gallagher that the US government is doing away with plans to have an international body overseeing the workings of the internet. In the context of the "war on terror", it's easy to see the Washington thinking behind this. Cyber-terrorism is a not insignificant threat.

ICANN cut its ties with the Department of Commerce late next year but its desire to keep the power base in the United States is unlikely to change.

US moves to draw the web closer to its chest shouldn't worry the rest of the world. The web is essential to US business. The biggest online traders - the likes of amazon.com and eBay.com - are all American. It's in the interests of the United States for all of us to have unfettered, global access to the web. That's why they haven't ring-fenced it and tried to charge us money to use it.

ICANN needn't change much, but a forum for major new issues needs to be established and the UN needs to have "power of veto" when it comes to major decisions that could inhibit access to the internet in any part of the world.

By Peter Griffin
The New Zealand Herald.

More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

  • How fast is KVM? Host vs virtual machine performance!
  • Kernel maintenance, Brillo style
    Brillo, he said, is a software stack for the Internet of things based on the Android system. These deployments bring a number of challenges, starting with the need to support a different sort of hardware than Android normally runs on; target devices may have no display or input devices, but might well have "fun buses" to drive interesting peripherals. The mix of vendors interested in this area is different; handset vendors are present, but many more traditional embedded vendors can also be found there. Brillo is still in an early state of development.
  • Reviewing Project Management Service `Wrike` And Seems Interesting
    I have been testing some services for our project and found this amazing service, thought why not share it with you guys, it might be useful for you. Project management is a term that in some respects appears common, yet in practice still seems to be limited to large companies. While this may be true, the foundations of project management are actually rather simple and can be adopted by anyone, in any industry. One of the major requirements you need to consider when selecting a good project management software is the ability to run and operate it on the go via your mobile devices. Other factors include the ability to access the software from any platform whether it be Linux, Mac, or Windows. This can be achieved when the project management software is web-based. Wrike is a software that does of all this.
  • World Wine News Issue 403
  • OSVR on Steam, Unity drops legacy OpenGL, and more gaming news
  • GNOME Core Apps Hackfest 2016
    This November from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 was held in Berlin the GNOME Core Apps Hackfest. My focus during this hackfest was to start implementing a widget for the series view of the Videos application, following a mockup by Allan Day.
  • Worth Watching: What Will Happen to Red Hat Inc Next? The Stock Just Declined A Lot
  • Vetr Inc. Lowers Red Hat Inc. (RHT) to Buy
  • Redshift functionality on Fedora 25 (GNOME + Wayland). Yes, it's possible!
    For those who can't live without screen colour shifting technology such as Redshift or f.lux, myself being one of them, using Wayland did pose the challenge of having these existing tools not working with the Xorg replacement. Thankfully, all is not lost and it is possible even right now. Thanks to a copr repo, it's particularly easy on Fedora 25. One of the changes that comes with Wayland is there is currently no way for third-party apps to modify screen gamma curves. Therefore, no redshift apps, such as Redshift itself (which I recently covered here) will work while running under Wayland.
  • My Free Software Activities in November 2016
  • Google's ambitious smartwatch vision is failing to materialise
    In February this year, Google's smartwatch boss painted me a rosy picture of the future of wearable technology. The wrist is, David Singleton said, "the ideal place for the power of Google to help people with their lives."
  • Giving Thanks (along with a Shipping Update)
    Mycroft will soon be available as a pre-built Raspberry Pi 3 image for any hobbyist to use. The new backend we have been quietly building is emerging from beta, making the configuration and management of you devices simple. We are forming partnerships to get Mycroft onto laptops, desktops and other devices in the world. Mycroft will soon be speaking to you throughout your day.
  • App: Ixigo Indian Rail Train PNR Status for Tizen Smart Phones
    Going on a train journey in India? Ixigo will check the PNR status, the train arrival and departure & how many of the particular tickets are left that you can purchase. You can also do a PNR status check to make sure that your seat is booked and confirmed.

Networking and Servers

  • How We Knew It Was Time to Leave the Cloud
    In my last infrastructure update, I documented our challenges with storage as GitLab scales. We built a CephFS cluster to tackle both the capacity and performance issues of NFS and decided to replace PostgreSQL standard Vacuum with the pg_repack extension. Now, we're feeling the pain of running a high performance distributed filesystem on the cloud.
  • Hype Driven Development
  • SysAdmins Arena in a nutshell
    Sysadmins can use the product to improve their skills or prepare for an interview by practicing some day to day job scenarios. There is an invitation list opened for the first testers of the product.

Desktop GNU/Linux

  • PINEBOOK Latest News: Affordable Linux Laptop at Only $89 Made by Raspberry Pi Rival, PINE
    PINE, the rival company of Raspberry Pi and maker of the $20 Pine A64, has just announced its two below $100-priced Linux laptops, known as PINEBOOK. The affordable Linux laptop is powered by Quad-Core ARM Cortex A53 64-bit processor and comes with an 11.6" or 14" monitor.
  • Some thoughts about options for light Unix laptops
    I have an odd confession: sometimes I feel (irrationally) embarrassed that despite being a computer person, I don't have a laptop. Everyone else seems to have one, yet here I am, clearly behind the times, clinging to a desktop-only setup. At times like this I naturally wind up considering the issue of what laptop I might get if I was going to get one, and after my recent exposure to a Chromebook I've been thinking about this once again. I'll never be someone who uses a laptop by itself as my only computer, so I'm not interested in a giant laptop with a giant display; giant displays are one of the things that the desktop is for. Based on my experiences so far I think that a roughly 13" laptop is at the sweet spot of a display that's big enough without things being too big, and I would like something that's nicely portable.
  • What is HiDPI and Why Does it Matter?

Google and Mozilla

  • Google Rolls Out Continuous Fuzzing Service For Open Source Software
    Google has launched a new project for continuously testing open source software for security vulnerabilities. The company's new OSS-Fuzz service is available in beta starting this week, but at least initially it will only be available for open source projects that have a very large user base or are critical to global IT infrastructure.
  • Mozilla is doing well financially (2015)
    Mozilla announced a major change in November 2014 in regards to the company's main revenue stream. The organization had a contract with Google in 2014 and before that had Google pay Mozilla money for being the default search engine in the Firefox web browser. This deal was Mozilla's main source of revenue, about 329 million US Dollars in 2014. The change saw Mozilla broker deals with search providers instead for certain regions of the world.