Saturday, 20 October 2018

Testing times for Net guardians

Kenneth Cukier reports on the technical trial that sounded White House alarm bells
Monday 16 February 98

Taking the decision to "redirect" eight Internet root servers may sound like an arcane technical procedure to the uninitiated. But among those who understand the Net, the move, undertaken at the end of last month, was interpreted as a spirited act of defiance - perhaps even the first salvo of a longer battle over who controls the global network. The subsequent blizzard of media concern over alleged shortcomings in the Net's governance has highlighted the mutual suspicions of the two camps fighting over the future of the Internet. On one side is the United States' government and corporate America, which view the Internet as central to commerce. On the other side stands the Internet community, deeply suspicious of moves that seemingly wrest control of the Internet away from its founding fathers. And at stake are two very different models of how the Net should be governed - an informal community-based model of trust, versus a view of control and formal obligations. Significantly, the surprise technical move, called a "test," was initiated by Jon Postel, the respected founding father of the Internet. It came on the eve of a sweeping White House plan to formalize the anarchic but vital infrastructural operations of the Net. In a sign that Net infrastructure has penetrated public policy spheres…

Taking the decision to "redirect" eight Internet root servers may sound like an arcane technical procedure to the uninitiated. But among those who understand the Net, the move, undertaken at the end of last month, was interpreted as a spirited act of defiance - perhaps even the first salvo of a longer battle over who controls the global network. The subsequent blizzard of media concern over alleged shortcomings in the Net's governance has highlighted the mutual suspicions of the two camps fighting over the future of the Internet. On one side is the United States' government and corporate America, which view the Internet as central to commerce. On the other side stands the Internet community, deeply suspicious of moves that seemingly wrest control of the Internet away from its founding fathers. And at stake are two very different models of how the Net should be governed - an informal community-based model of trust, versus a view of control and formal obligations. Significantly, the surprise technical move, called a "test," was initiated by Jon Postel, the respected founding father of the Internet. It came on the eve of a sweeping White House plan to formalize the anarchic but vital infrastructural operations of the Net. In a sign that Net infrastructure has penetrated public policy spheres…

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