The Big Idea: What’s In a Name? — ICANN and Controlling the Internet Domain Naming System

Two computers about internet backgrounds .

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Back in September, The National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) announced it’s going to hand over the control of the Internet Domain Naming System (DNS) to a non-U.S. entity. For the first time it will be the multi-stakeholder nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles called ICANN, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. This is the organization Vint Cerf helped create, and for the last 18 to 20 years this has been his goal: Independence the US government.

The DNS links web addresses to a site’s servers via an IP address, and once this transfer occurs, all the names will be basically controlled by this organization, ICANN. So, let’s say you enter into a web browser’s an address like Stratford.edu. Your request for that name goes to a domain naming system, and says “Oh that particular domain name has this this IP address associated with it…” and then the DNS sends back the IP address for Stratford to your browser. Without this domain naming system you can’t translate names of websites into computer IP addresses, so it is a core element in the whole internet.

internetNTIA said that the decision will “maintain the security, stability, and resiliency” of the Domain Name System, meet the demands of a global market, and maintain the “openness” of the Internet. They also emphasize the importance of the “multi-stakeholder” model—this sounds very much like a quote from Vint— which combines a variety of voices from business, tech, government, and other countries to collaborate on Internet governance. Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling explained that the deal had been 18 years in the making, and the federal government’s control of the DNS system was always intended to be temporary.

This transfer of authority, though, is not without critics of course. This deal came under fire by those in the United States government and those running for office, and there was an attempt to turn this transferal of control into a political matter. Republican Senator Ted Cruz went so far as to state “American businesses, consumers, and all those who rely upon a .com domain for communication and commerce will be ill-served…” by the transition. While we do not run that kind of blog here, this is one of those issues that if you don’t fully understand a subject, maybe it is best to either research it or a consult an expert before speaking on it. Fortunately, here at Stratford, we offer degrees in IT and Computer Sciences, so we can state with full authority “There is nothing to fear here. This is about issuing IP addresses, not freedom of speech on the Internet.”

There’s another reason why we know this. It’s already happened. The transfer was fully negotiated several years ago, and at the beginning of this month, ICAMM took control. Vint Cerf has been and continues to be a strong advocate for the independence of the Internet from any direct government control, and this just starts a whole theme of things in the beginning when he made TC/IP an open source protocol.

Did you notice anything change?

No?

Exactly.

 


 

shurtz.jpgA research physicist who has become an entrepreneur and educational leader, and an expert on competency-based education, critical thinking in the classroom, curriculum development, and education management, Dr. Richard Shurtz is the president and chief executive officer of Stratfdord University. He has published over 30 technical publications, holds 15 patents, and is host of the weekly radio show, Tech Talk. A noted expert on competency-based education, Dr. Shurtz has conducted numerous workshops and seminars for educators in Jamaica, Egypt, India, and China, and has established academic partnerships in China, India, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan, Malaysia, and Canada.

 

 

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