EU, Others, to Wrest Internet Control from U.S.

54 comments
Source Title:
Breaking America's grip on the net
Story Text:

Clearly unimpressed by the U.S. refusing to give up governance of the Internet's root server top level control, the EU and other countries have joined forces to take control of the internet whether the U.S. like it or not.

A number of countries represented in Geneva, including Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran and several African states, insisted the US give up control, but it refused. The meeting "was going nowhere", Hendon says, and so the EU took a bold step and proposed two stark changes: a new forum that would decide public policy, and a "cooperation model" comprising governments that would be in overall charge.

Much to the distress of the US, the idea proved popular. Its representative hit back, stating that it "can't in any way allow any changes" that went against the "historic role" of the US in controlling the top level of the internet.

But the refusal to budge only strengthened opposition, and now the world's governments are expected to agree a deal to award themselves ultimate control. It will be officially raised at a UN summit of world leaders next month and, faced with international consensus, there is little the US government can do but acquiesce.

Slap!

Comments

Yikes...

Oh great. Let's get China, Cuba and Iran involved.. they love censoring information on the Internet. Now they have a better chance of stemming free speech at the very source.

What could possibly go wrong?

Oh great. Let's get China,

Oh great. Let's get China, Cuba and Iran involved.. they love censoring information on the Internet. Now they have a better chance of stemming free speech at the very source.

I think you'll find the US are in to exactly the same game, they're just a lot better at it.

I'm quite interested to find out exactly how you can remove control of the Net from the US in the first place. AFAIK they're talking about the 13 root NSs that have been getting a lot of press recently. These servers' IP are hard-coded in to every single DNS server in the world. If the US doesn't want to comply, then all the main Internet routers will need to be reconfigured to point the 13 IPs to different locations. Problem: A lot of these routers reside in the US.

Unless the UN have some sort of "Do as we say or we'll write an angry letter to you" type power, but basically even if the UN does get pissed at the US, there isn't and never will be anything we can do about it. They're bigger and more powerful than us.

there's an old saying in America

You can take my gun, when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

I believe that will be the case here as well

Problem: A lot of these

Quote:
Problem: A lot of these routers reside in the US.

DNS root servers = a database and a fairly reproduceable one at that.

I would make the assumption that to get to these US routers the data passes through routers in other countries.

The UN really don't need any power, as long as the other countries agree then they don't have to use the US's database if they don't want to. If they all agree they want to use a different one then I presume they'd think it perfectly fine if the US felt like carrying on using theirs for themselves.

I would make the assumption

I would make the assumption that to get to these US routers the data passes through routers in other countries.

And segregate the Internet right down the middle? That's the LAST thing we need!

Wow

- what a move.

What I read is some world leaders thinking along these lines: "If the US don't want to play, ultimately we can just build our own net for the rest of the world. It's not as if we can't live without them anyway, and they obviously don't think they need us, so... "

I might be wrong, but that's a pretty stong move. Refusing to allow one particular nation control of an asset and transferring it to "common ground" in stead. That's the sort of thing that could really make the world a better place.

Imagine if national leaders (including US) really had to start taking the international institutions seriously? Wow. Just wow.

And segregate the Internet

Quote:
And segregate the Internet right down the middle? That's the LAST thing we need!

Yup. Correct. And it is the LAST thing we need. However, point is that US control or indeed anyone's control is mostly illusory. Whatever the majority agrees, the minority would have to follow or "segregate the Internet right down the middle".

hardcoded

No problem. Y2K was a "hardcoded" problem a lot of places as well.

The same countries who

The same countries who support Iran nuclear weapons program... + Ghana, - Russia.

Brazil's Lula and the PT party would probably just sell the root servers and then hide the money in an off shore account.

or....

"You can take my gun, when you pry it from my cold dead hands."

Of course it may be that 'you' only believe the gun is 'yours', and have the illusion that it is in 'your' hands.

In which case the gun can be easily taken leaving 'you' to believe that you still have it.

Not to start a political

Not to start a political discussion about what's right and what's not, but the average american's impression of the UN is less than favorable, in fact it's actually pretty bad. Whether that fact is true or not, well everyone's perception is their own version of reality, and that's what's at play here.

If we for a moment pretend

If we for a moment pretend that the Internet was controlled by, say, UK in stead of US, my opinion would be the same. Likewise if it was controlled by any other single country, including the one I happen to live in.

Too easy: Google set up DNS

Too easy: Google set up DNS Beta in one of their datacenters in another country, start logging everything anyone visits, and Marissa explains how the nuclear war was all webmaster's faults anyway but the new DNS Beta improves useability.

What exactly

I am not getting...

What exactly do they want to control ?
Do they want a say in new tld's ?
Do they want the tld's more distributed across the world ?

And yes anyone but the UN would be a more acceptable option in the US.

Screw the UN

Go build your own...who cares? As was mentioned above the average American seems to have less and less respect for the UN. For many good reasons. Maybe over time the US will revert back to the pre WWII era and basically stay out of world affairs...

Next they'll decide that the

Next they'll decide that the US economy is too essential to other countries' economy and devise a new forum and "cooperation model" to take over the tax collection and the US treasury.

Control only what they built.

Only in Wonderland do you build something that has become a huge part of your economy/culture and then had it over to a group that is made up with many of your enemies.

I don't know the percentage, but a great many US citizens don't care a hoot if the international community doesn't like the US.

Dunno

I honestly don't know what exactly anyone wants. The more I think about it the more odd the whole fight seems.

So I am trying to frame it, what exactly are they fighting over ? Would/could it change anything ?

I suggest

May I suggest we focus on the technical side of this. Save the political talk for our respective blogs.

If you are in favor of this

If you are in favor of this move you must ask yourself: Do I like being able to register baconpolenta.com on a whim for $9, or would I prefer to file forms in triplicate, wait 2 months, and pay $99?

>> do you build something

>> do you build something that has become a huge part of your economy/culture and then had it over to a group that is made up with many of your enemies.

The US did not build the internet. They have had a larger hand in its construction than most countries, but even then, US governmental involvement has been a far more recent thing (excluding the DoD in early prototypes of the 'Net).

And if you want to follow the "don't depend on your enemies" thread, I assume you are going to stop buying fuel for your car? After all, we know where the oil is largely coming from. Alaska and Texas are running dry....

No one is mentioning here is

No one is mentioning here is that the internet is already divided on language. Russian Cyberspace (or Runet as we call it) is one example. It is hardly surprising that the millions of Russian users, many rarely even using the English speaking net, will feel uncomfortable about US control.

If the internet does not move to international management then you may well see these parts breaking away for independence

Heh we've been here before haven't we...

Not political, but still B.S.

From Wikipedia -

During the 1950s, several communications researchers realized that there was a need to allow general communication between users of various computers and communications networks. This led to research into decentralized networks, queuing theory, and packet switching. The subsequent creation of ARPANET in the United States in turn catalyzed a wave of technical developments that made it the basis for the development of the Internet.

The first TCP/IP wide area network was operational in 1984 when the United States' National Science Foundation (NSF) constructed a university network backbone that would later become the NSFNet.

U.S. all the way.

I assume you are going to stop buying fuel for your car?

Hardly, that is kind of a narrow thing to suggest. I didn't bring oil into this and to attempt to compare giving away the Internet to the UN to not purchasing gas because it may or *may not* come from the Mid East is schoolyard sophistry.

Let's be objective

Can anyone outside the U.S. explain to me how the Internet might have flourished more if it had been controlled by the U.N. these last 10 years? From my point of view, the U.S. has been a great steward of Internet infrastructure, and that should count for something.

Also, let's not put Tim Berners-Lee up on a pedestal, please. While he's been a nice guy, the real valuable contributors to the internet have been all the startups that have greedily seized opportunity and built networks, servers, hardware, software and great websites to really make the web useful. That's capitalism at its finest, unfettered by government, and it is beyond question that a world governing body would've mucked it up bad had they been in a position to do so.

b)

If you are in favor of this

If you are in favor of this move you must ask yourself: Do I like being able to register baconpolenta.com on a whim for $9, or would I prefer to file forms in triplicate, wait 2 months, and pay $99?

Not sure if you are simply joking here Notsleepy but ICANN assign the contracts for each tld to private companies based on a process of bidding. Moving the root name servers would have absolutely no effect on this.

In the interests of fairness

In the interests of fairness here, Tim Berners-Lee himself states he did not invent the internet

That old web = internet problem.

It's my belief, with my

It's my belief, with my intermediate knowledge of DNS and the way the Internet works, that if the root DNS servers were switched off for whatever reason, the entire Internet would effectively cease to function within 24-48 hours. Supposing, for whatever reason, that the US military needed the bandwidth that us miniscule civillians base our livelihoods on.

Give the order, wait a bit, and literally all the bandwidth in the world is there for the taking.

THAT's why the US wants control, and that's exactly why we don't want them to have it. They do the same with GPS - remember GPS is a US military service, and they have the power to switch it off in the event of a "national emergency".

Now I trust the UK/western Europe not to perform the above actions more than I trust the US, but I still wouldn't be happy with that. If the root DNS servers were controlled by the UN, with all countries having a say in what happens to them, then I'd be satisfied.

As for the Y2K argument mentioned above, people patched their systems because of a technical flaw, not for political advantage.

ARPANET was a prototype of

ARPANET was a prototype of the Internet as we know it. TCP/IP is a communication protocol, not the Internet. The WWW is not the Internet. The root level servers are not the Internet. No-one "owns" the Internet, so it cannot be "given away"

>> compare giving away the Internet to the UN

The US does not "own" the Internet. It does have to be administered, and while I'd agree that the UN is not the most efficient body in the world, can you see why some people might be unhappy about the US taking too many of the decisions as well?

In fact, under the current arrangements, although many of the bodies involved are US based, they don't really do what the US Gov tells them, so it's a moot point.

>> schoolyard sophistry.

Hardly. Both oil and the Internet are global issues, although the US is a key player in each. I'd say the comparison is valid

As soon as the rest of the

As soon as the rest of the world wants to kick in their fair share of funding the UN, I'd be happy to entertain this notion. In the meantime, the UN, whether you like it or not, is still going to proxy US initiatives because, well, we pay for it.

And, should somebody at in the Int'l community actually try to throw an Internet fit, it's still going to be the relationship with the US consumer that dictates the set of outcomes because, well, when we aren't funding the rest of the world's sense of entitlement, our economy is still a disproportionate amount of grease on the squeaky wheel.

And, FYI, Texas oil isn't running dry. It was pretty dry at $30/barrel, but you'd be surprised how much we're drilling at $70/barrel. There's lots and lots of $70/barrel oil! (But I know wher TallTroll was going with that).

thats well and good

but you can not deny that the other countries have a legitimate concern here. We Americans are not going to do much good by telling people to f**k off.

Not sure the US bankrolls

Not sure the US bankrolls the whole process Scoreboard. The unpaid US dues to the UN has been well documented.

off topic but..

Can someone bring up Nazi's so we can declare this over ?

Haha, webprofessor. This is

Haha, webprofessor. This is undoubtedly going to remain passionately off-topic, so in the interest of bringing it back on-topic.

Let the free market dictate the Internet. US or not.

oh boy....

much as I enjoy a good argument this one is just silly.

Ok - how about we boil it down to there being an entity which has put a lot of hard work in in the past to create something, but has been helped by other entities (entities = like things from The Excorcist but less fun).

Now this first one is being asked to let some of the other ones have access to the control panel but is refusing to let them anywhere near it.

Does the fact that one side put a lot of effort into it and may, or may not, have been responsible for it being better than it would otherwise have been, mean that it can claim total ownership and not let anyone else play for ever?

I found the problem!

can you see why some people might be unhappy about the US taking too many of the decisions as well?

No. In all honesty I can't understand why someone wouldn't be happy with the US making the decisions. I guess this is because I live in the US and know and trust the people.

I can imagine that people outside the US hold those same feelings toward their own countries. I also see that many countries have hard feelings to the US, but again - I just can't understand those feelings.

Eveyone outside the US needs to understand that the US is not well represented by what you see in the news. In the news, you're likely to see much of New York, LA, Chicago (my town) and any large city. Large cities make the news, but large cities don't really have the same culture as the rest of the nation. I read that in the last US election many people outside the US couldn't understand how or why the country elected for Bush - that is because outside the US you only get large city news.

The largest 100 cities in the US make up 58 million people. The other 240 million are spread around in smaller cities and towns which usually have a much different culture than New York or Chicago. We have a nationa holiday - 4th of July. In small towns before the last election people would come out with their families dressed up in hoiday gear, they would cook food and share it with neighbors and celebrate the entire day. Very nationalistic. This is the US that I know. This is why elections go different that what outsiders may think.

This is also why giving up something to a group that has a bad reputation in the US would never happen if it were up to a vote and why it may be political suicide to just give it away anyhow.

>> fair share of funding the

>> fair share of funding the UN, I'd be happy to entertain this notion

Fair comment. I don't have any particular problem with the US having a big say in the UN, because you do pay for a fair amount of it. History shows you don't always get your way on important stuff anyway. It's not perfect, but it's a great deal better than nothing.

>> you'd be surprised how much we're drilling at $70/barrel

Even with the high price, reserves in the ConUS are dropping. The reason that some of it is expensive is that it's damn hard to get at.... but , yes $70 / barrel would make more of it economic. Nevertheless, reliance on solely domestic sources would lead to the US running out in a few decades

back to the issue

What exactly would giving up "control" mean ?
Would there be a tax by every for adding a new zone file ?

I think really this is a really stupid thing to get in a row about. Let them have it. Well preferably a different organization but what would "we" lose ?

..

Chinese porn for one...

It's not the UN

It's

a new forum that would decide public policy, and a "cooperation model" comprising governments that would be in overall charge.

So, it's not the UN as such. It sounds like it's some new forum that will be formed for this specific purpose. The article in the Guardian only states that the issue:

... will be officially raised at a UN summit of world leaders next month

>> it may be political

>> it may be political suicide to just give it away anyhow.

You'r emissing the point. The US does not own, and can never own, the Internet. If the rest of us get sufficiently pissed off, we'll just stop talking to you. It's easy. The system was designed, explicitly, to allow, even encourage this

>> In all honesty I can't understand why someone wouldn't be happy with the US making the decisions.

OK. Well, I'm sorry to say it, but the US extremely badly regarded in much of the world, in much the same way as you see the UN, but with more contempt.

US foreign policy has been almost exclusively crap since the Presidency of FDR, and US corporate practice almost as bad. I will freely admit that many UK / European nations and firms have been at least as bad, but the US is the biggest, so you get the most stick for it. Tough, that's just the way things work

To work back to the specific issue, the US has shown a tendency to do everything in its power (and several things not in it's power, at least legally) to get it's own way in recent history. On this occasion though, you don't have the power you think you do, and you will get a rude awakening if you push it, I suspect

>> we'll just stop talking to you

Good?

I was trying to be diplomatic or polite... oh well.

US foreign policy has been almost exclusively crap since the Presidency of FDR, and US corporate practice almost as bad.

Bullshit. Ignorance doesn't usually fit you. The US foreign policy has been great for the US - maybe you got hind tit, but like you said 'Tough, that's just the way things work'.

much as I enjoy a good

Quote:
much as I enjoy a good argument this one is just silly.

Glad to see everyone's been keeping busy while i've been babysitting :)

one reason to divide control

There is one good reason to actually divide control between a few set of nations.

As of today, things work fine, right ? So giving away the 13 root servers to 13 different countries (including countries that could have difficulties to cooperate with each other, it doesn't matter) is a guarantee that no one will ever make them agree on any future change. So that the internet will just keep on working the same old way than today :)

Besides this, I wonder what americans would think if the root servers were all located in another fairly technologically advanced country, say UK or France or Germany ?

Mom/Nick

I was wondering where you were. Usually, you wouldn't have let us get this carried away...

We're talking about the DNS

We're talking about the DNS root servers here, not global domination.

There are 13 root servers, if I remember my TCP/IP, of which F, I, K and M are already operated wholly or partially outside the USA, plus possibly J (Verisign if you are willing to designate that as partially non-US). Note that most physical servers are now already located outside the US (due to distribution by certain root servers).

Some people might find this useful:
http://www.isoc.org/briefings/019/

Hey Nebraska, i think this

Hey Nebraska, i think this thread demonstrates one of the things *I* think make TW rather special - it's a lively debate, not a blood bath - let's just keep it that way, and we'll let this one run :)

Thanks everyone.

>> maybe you got hind

>> maybe you got hind tit

Ack, ack, ack. The UK has done quite well... it's the rest of the world that has taken it up the ass, which is why they aren't so keen on Uncle Sam. Whilst it would be wrong to blame all the world's ills on the US, you have, as a nation missed many, many opportunities to improve matters, mostly due to successive administrations pandering to domestic public opinion, instead of doing the right thing.

Jimmy Carter tried, but was essentially crap at politics, so never got the support he needed to do what he wanted. Reagan was successful in doing the damage to the Soviet Union, but mostly by accident. He'd have taken the exact same stance whatever, it was hardly a calculated politcal move.... You're still tidying up from the abortion that was the Clinton era.... badly

Again, don't get me wrong.... the UKs foreign policy over the last 100 years has sucked very badly on occasion too, I don't wish to come over as anti-US... but until US citizens realise what's going on in their name, I don't see matters improving, and since US politics is driven by US public opinion, I don't see prospects of much change there, either.

Nebraska, do you know any US servicemen who have served a complete term overseas somewhere (and I don't mean Hawaii)? If so, go talk to them. I think you'll be shocked

yep..

Quote:
Nebraska, do you know any US servicemen who have served a complete term overseas somewhere (and I don't mean Hawaii)? If so, go talk to them. I think you'll be shocked

Definitley was an education for me.

hehehe

Americans most probably know more about the Patriot Act than most in the UK, but I think the world had a few problems with :

Federal Bureau of Investigation's ability to get Internet records without demonstrating probable cause that the individual is an agent of a foreign power. .. the fact that the so much of the worlds internet communications run though American Routers the FBI and CIA can build a full profile on me... even thou it's illegal in UK to do that.. but if the British government requested that information .. they get fuck all .. I think that's where the issues might lie..

DaveN

It seems to be a size/ stability issue.

Like it or not, the US is a large, politically stable country who has put more money into the Internet that most other countries combined. As a whole, they can make decisions faster than smaller countries loosely bound together litigating amongst themselves to try to get the best 'deal' their country.

Frankly, I completely understand why the US doesn't want to give up control: they'd be stupid to do it.

>>Like it or not, the US is

>>Like it or not, the US is a large, politically stable country...

Oh, come on, to lose one president is unfortunate.

To lose four is carelessness.

Eveyone outside the US

Quote:
Eveyone outside the US needs to understand that the US is not well represented by what you see in the news.

And parallel to that, everyone inside the US needs to understand that the rest of the world is not well represented by media you're exposed to inside the US.

We need to remember that much of what we think we know about world affairs has been been through a lot of filters before it ever gets to us.

The link stever gave is

The link stever gave is great, it's a pretty good description. To be clear, the root name servers, that we're talking about:

Quote:
The root zone file lists the names and numeric IP addresses of the authoritative DNS servers for all top-level domains (TLDs) such as ORG, COM, NL and AU. On 12-Dec-2004 there were 258 TLDs and 773 different authoritative servers for those TLDs listed.

The link points out the root zone file is tiny. Give the numbers in that quote that's pretty obvious.

Controlling the root name servers DOES NOT mean controlling the internet. If I have a copy of the root zone file I could find any ip address without querying the root zone servers. This helps also to explain why given it's technically possible the US actually couldn't say no to control being taken away from them.

Let's put it in terms of a catalogue. The root zone file isn't even the index to the catalogue. The root zone file is equivalent to a list of sections of the index in the catalogue.

He who administers the route zone file effectively controls which DNS servers get listed for each TLD. They could, for example, refuse to list one if it was operated by Country X. I don't know enough about how it's set up to say how this works in practice but I presume they do. That is the only power that comes from administering the root name servers. I say "administering" because you cannot control something that can easily be taken away from you.

The question the becomes, does the US have any right to influence who within the UK or any other country provides the original DNS services for each tld. Surely that should be up to each individual country.

Ok, thanks everyone!

Ok, thanks everyone!

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