TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: United States Says No! Internet is Ours!

Re: United States Says No! Internet is Ours!

Garrett Wollman (
Mon, 3 Oct 2005 04:04:06 UTC

In article <>, TELECOM Digest
Editor noted in response to Garrett Wollman
<> by writing:

> "The internet is controlled to a large extent by the 'root servers';

No, it is not. The Internet is controlled to a large extent by
thousands of system administrators, who set up the servers on which
Internet applications run. One of configuration choices they make is
the set of root name servers. Currently, at least in the developed
world, they choose to use a set of root name servers some of which
happen to be operated under contract to the U.S. government. There is
no law requiring them to do so; they are free to use any set of root
name servers they wish.

My guess is that the ultimate result of the USG intransigeance on this
issue will be for other countries to start up their own root name
servers (or to co-opt those already located on their territory) and
require ISPs to use those servers rather than the USG-sponsored ones.
(I would be surprised if the likes of China and Iran were not already
doing so. Certainly the Golden Shield makes it trivial for the PRC
government to spoof or redirect any DNS traffic they choose.) This
would not be a disaster, although it would be a distinctly suboptimal
outcome, since the DNS works best when there is a single, consistent
answer for every query, and every user has the same view of the
world. But it is emphatically not necessary (and for peer-to-peer
applications it is entirely irrelevant).

> writing to a very one-sided 'contract' presented to them by ICANN and
> make an annual extortion payment required by ICANN which goes to fund
> the overseas trips and other friviolities in which ICANN engages

whine, whine, whine...

> Of course it has nothing to say about you having any rights
> such as the right to be free of others sending spam or scam or viruses

Perhaps because you have no such right, and it would not be in ICANN's
power to give it to you even if they wanted to.

> ICANN _could_ have written contracts for users with some protections
> for users built in if they had wanted to,

No, it could not have. (A trademark lawyer would argue to the
contrary, that in fact all those requirements that you decry are in
fact put there to protect users from mistaken identity on the part of
the site they think they're communicating with, just as trademark law
protects consumers who buy a brand-name product from getting something
else. It is certainly not ICANN's role to be the enforcer of
morality, or even of good business practice, on the 'net -- I'm
certain you'd be bellyaching about that if they tried! Governments
are the appropriate bodies to regulate such behavior, if anyone is.)


Garrett A. Wollman    | As the Constitution endures, persons in every | generation can invoke its principles in their own
Opinions not those    | search for greater freedom.
of MIT or CSAIL.      | - A. Kennedy, Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: You said above that ICANN could not have written contracts; in fact they have written contracts have they not? Otherwise, what do you call those things we have signed and the money we pay to ICANN? What prevents them from making those things (which I and most reasonable people refer to as 'contracts') from being so one-sided; making them a bit more even handed? PAT]

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