An interesting article on who controls the internet has sprung up. The fight between the United States and the United Nations has started over who controls the way domain names (e.g. www.billarends.blogspot.com, www.michaelsuddard.com, etc.) are delegated. Also, the fight is over how IP addresses are formulated now and in the future. Confused? Well take a look at this excerpt to explain the details:
At bottom, the conflict is over who controls the bits and pieces that go into creating an Internet address. Like, for instance, thestar.com.
As the Internet took shape and grew in complexity in the 1990s, the job of deciding if a domain name ends with a “.com” or a “.ca” or a “.uk” or a “.xxx” was handled by a non-profit American company called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
The company’s other job is to create IP addresses — the strings of identifying numbers that computers wear like nametags when they’re wandering around in cyberspace.
So really the United States government and this private non-profit organization controls the infrastructure of the internet. It is just like Bell Canada in Canada deciding how a phone number is built and the new Rogers Phone service coming in and using the same phone number structure.
Update (thanks to an anonymous commenter): Bell Canada is like ICANN in delegating who gets what phone number. Bell delegates that Joe Blow gets the phone number 555-555-5555 (see the comment section of this blog for full explanation of the first six digits of Joe’s phone number). Basically the phone number makes Joe’s phone ring. ICANN, with I.P.s being like phone numbers, delegates which computer gets which I.P Number. ICANN also delegates, following a formal request, whether joeblow.com (like Joe Blow’s name) is pointed to the right number and makes the connection so the computer “rings”. The two “rings” mentioned in this paragraph means the computer and the phone are alerted that another computer or phone want to make a connection to exchange messages.
Should this important function of the internet be turned over to the United Nations?
Probably not at this moment.
Lets remember what is currently going on in the United Nations and how much this organization is currently dithering because of political infighting.
1. United States still owes a large amount of back dues to the United Nations which the United States continues to refuse to pay. Why? Because the United States believes its military contributions to the United Nations operations should be a good substitute. This disagreement between the United Nations and the United States has continued to fester for many years.
2. The United Nations Secretariet can’t figure out where in New York City to move to temporarily while its own office tower is being renovated. There have been rumours of a move to elsewhere in Manhattan. However, these rumours were quickly quashed by local New York City politicians. There has also been rumours that the United Nations might head to downtown Brooklyn, but nothing has been confirmed. The renovations are supposed to start in the near future and last until 2009. However, before anything can happen, the entire Secretariat needs to be moved out of the current building. Lets also not forget that the current building does not match current New York City fire codes, so the people working in that office tower are in possible danger considering New York City’s immediate history. Yet the Secretariat continues to bungle this move.
3. The Iraq war never saw any sanctions against the United States despite the reasons for going to war not being approved by the United Nations. Sure there were weapons inspectors doing their jobs in Iraq off and on for a decade, but does it really take over a decade to find the weapons? Seems a little fishy to me on whats going on this instance. Was the United States right going in the way they did? I am still unsure (let the comments flow on that one!).
Lets also remember the status quo of the internet seems to be working, so why change it? Anybody know of any political infighting because Joe Blow from a country couldn’t register his domain name or have an IP address he so desired? I think not. I also find it amazing that a worldly used instrument has come to agree on this one organization to handle the basic infrastructure of the internet without any problems until recently. Is it perhaps some people are a little upset over the Iraq war and are seeking other methods to get back at the United States? Perhaps, but am unsure. Would there be such an uproar if this particular non-profit organization was based in the very threatening country of Switzerland? I don’t think so!
Why change something that already is used by billions without any issues in its set-up. Are there improvements that could be made to the internet infrastructure? Probably. But the basis of the internet, the assigning of domain names to the proper numbers and letters, has never caused a problem. Besides if this set-up was changed, the internet would be thrown into dissarray because the likes of Internet Explorer, Netscape, Fire Fox and loads of other browsers might not be able to find the proper website associated with the domain name. I could be wrong on that one, but I do believe there would be problems along the way for computers to find the right domain name somehow. Perhaps somebody a little more technoligically inclined might like to explain the pitfalls of changing the infrastructure of the internet might point out the problems.
Finally, my new formal belief with my experiences with York Region Transit and the New York City Department of Education, that big government is guarenteed to screw things up and take forever in fixing them. So why would a large entity like the internet be screwed up by the United Nations (the largest government organization I know) when currently the non-profit American organization seems to be doing a good job. After all, you did get to this particular blog without any problems right?