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The following is a text published originally on the FreedomForum website but apparently is not longer available there. Regrettably the original links had not been preserved, nor was there a precise date of publishing. -hc


   downloaded (Dec'97) from:




                       (AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT)

                               By Chris Flash



   The internet naming system, known as the "domain name system,"

   operated by the Internet Network Information Center (InterNIC) under

   the guardianship of the National Science Foundation (NSF), a

   government organization funded with tax dollars, has been privatized.

   InterNIC, the name registry part of the internet, is now run by

   Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI), which now enjoys a highly profitable



   InterNIC, administered by NSF, began name service on the internet for

   free. In 1993, InterNIC was privatized with a contract between NSF and

   NSI, awarding the domain registration service of the internet to NSI.

   In March of 1995, NSI was bought by the Scientific Applications

   International Corporation (SAIC). In September 1995, NSI began

   charging a $100 fee for name registration. Thus, InterNIC was

   transfered from the public sector (NSF) to the private sector (SAIC),

   with no public hearings or a competitive bidding process. SAIC, a

   multi-billion dollar company, has strong ties to the Pentagon, Central

   Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA). SAIC is

   a 20,000 employee-owned company with about 450 offices around the

   globe. Its current board of directors includes former NSA chief Bobby

   Inman, former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, and the former head of

   research and development for the Pentagon, Donald Hicks. Ex-CIA

   director Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense William Perry and CIA

   Director John Deutsch have been past SAIC board members. Eighty three

   percent of SAIC's $2 billion annual revenue comes from government

   contracts, including defense, intelligence, and law enforcement

   contracts. SAIC is designing new information systems for the Pentagon,

   helping to automate the FBI's computerized fingerprint identification

   system, and last year won a $200 million contract to provide

   "information support" to the IRS.


   SAIC also has the public data base listing of internet registration

   names. Since the SAIC take over of NSI, internet name registrations

   have been delayed due to investigations of those registering.


   When NSI began charging for the once free name registrations, the

   internet was on its way to the transition to a commercial marketplace.

   The regis-tration fee of $100 for the first two years of service has

   richly lined NSI's coffers as the number of registrations reached

   around 50,000 per month during 1996 alone. During this interval, the

   limitations of the current naming para-digm became obvious as

   companies discovered that they had to race, or in some cases litigate,

   to secure their internet identities ("their name".com) --only to

   discover that those names had already been assigned.


   Part of the problem lies not just in human greed, but in the limited

   number of the so-called "top level domains" administered by InterNIC.

   They are ".com" ".edu" ".org" ".net" ".mil" and ".gov." This system,

   which has its roots in the Department of Defense, was designed to

   identify the purpose of computers on the internet. The ".com" domain

   was the division given to commercial network addresses, who, at the

   time the system was established, were a minority of networks on the

   internet. Now that the number of commercial networks has grown beyond

   any scale ever imagined by the architects of the internet, the ".com"

   domain has just about reached its limits.


   Users have been frustrated by the limitations, speculation, and

   bureaucracy associated with registering an address on the internet

   with the InterNIC/ NSI/SAIC monopoly. Since ".com" is a limited realm,

   corporations soon began fighting over domain name space. Their

   increased pressure on the committee that assigns unique parameters on

   the internet, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), to

   expand name space, has pushed IANA to form an ad-hoc committee to

   decide how to deal with the domain name "shortages."


   Though IANA has no authority to do so, IANA is now proposing

   applications under which corporations may compete with InterNIC domain

   space. In late 1996, IANA joined forces with the World Intellectual

   Property Organization (WIPO), the International Telecommunications

   Union (ITU), the Internet Society (ISOC), the Internet Architecture

   Board (IAB), the Federal Networking Council (FNC), the International

   Trademark Association (ITA) and the Internet Engineering Task Force

   (IETF), to form the International Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC).


   After their conference in San Jose, California in December, IAHC put

   forth a controversial plan to license would-be registries who wish to

   compete in the market for domain name service: a $20,000

   non-refundable application fee, a percentage of the companies'

   revenues, and a requirement that potential registries submit to full

   examination of their books by an "independent" auditor.


   IAHC claims that these funds will be spent on maintaining the root

   servers (the computers which hold the internet's central name

   database.) The computers holding the domain name database are

   currently run by an inner circle, most of whom are members of IANA.

   Two examples are the root server at the University of Southern

   California (USC) run by John Postel, the head of IANA, and the root

   server residing at the army base at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds (the

   source of complaints by female recruits of sexual abuse by drill



   IAHC's plan, which has no legal authority or congressional mandate,

   seeks to impose regulations on a deregulated market, subsidizing

   corporations and collecting double taxes on American and international

   companies. More than half of the existing root nameserver computers

   are already supported by US tax dollars, not to mention the for profit

   companies who run the other computers serving the balance of root



   In essence, the feds are allowed to have a database and then have the

   audacity to charge the public for the priviledge under the pretext of

   free enterprise.


   Enter the free market. In response to the command economy of

   artificial shortages that have been imposed by a militaristic

   bureaucracy, a few enterprising independents have created new networks

   of root servers outside the "sanctioned" servers on which all

   connections to the internet depend. One such independent server is

   "", Inc. is creating unlimited names on demand for its users.

   You can create just about any domain name you want for yourself in

   name. space: "," "," or "anything.anything."


   Commercial registrations in name. space are currently free, but will

   be eventually charged at $25 per year per name once names

   are resolvable on the entire internet, which will happen in a few

   months. By comparison, InterNIC/NSI charges $100 for the first two

   years with a $50 annual renewal charge. also gives users the option of protecting their individual

   privacy with unpublished listings. InterNIC/NSI forces mandatory

   publication in their publicly-available "whois" database, and your

   personal information is in the hands of SAIC and various intelligence

   agencies. You can register your name with Name.Space in the

   "" accessible through the web site at: Importantly, instructions on how to

   change your computer settings to allow you access and recognition

   throughout the internet will appear on your screen.


   Currently, if you go with an independent root server and your name

   does not appear in the sanctioned database of InterNIC's established

   root servers, your name will not be found everywhere on the internet.

   Only other computers who check the new expanded database will be able

   to resolve the new domain names created by the independents. There are

   already more than 250 new possible names under which one can register

   on these new services.


   This poses a problem for the independent upstart name registries

   because, although they may have a fully functional root server system

   in place, and a fully automated and operational registration service

   in place, they are essentially frozen out of service. The defacto root

   servers, controlled by members of IANA, decide which entries will be

   in the database of the sanctioned root servers.

   Hence, IAHC has a vested interest in protecting their control

   over the "who's who" list of in-ternet networks, as do their

   compatriots at NSI, SAIC and the government agencies who do business

   with them.


   Paul Garrin, founder of explains: "The problem with the

   current models is the question of ownership of the new top level

   names. In fact, the common words used as descriptive top level names

   should be seen as a public resource, and the registries hold a

   stewardship on the name in the public's interest. Multiple registries

   must then share a database, and can assign names under the same top

   levels and insure uniqueness of names by cross-checking of their

   databases. is developing the software to do this. The

   doomed model of creating islands of privately-owned words is one of

   the final assaults on what is left of the public domain. "Trademark

   holders of certain words only own such words in their descriptive

   contexts, as in `Apple Computer'. Apple doesn't own the word `apple,'

   it owns the only `Apple Computer.' Otherwise, every time one would use

   the word `apple' in print or otherwise, they could face potential

   trademark infringement. This is to the point of absurdity. The issue

   of intellectual property is pushing the envelope of what I call the

   privatization of the public domain. When factual data or statistics

   become the property of some media conglomerate who invested money to

   package the information, does this lead to the total commodification

   of knowledge? When the facts in an encyclopaedia become the property

   of Time Warner, do we win or do we lose? When does culture and history

   become private property? And when this happens, when our society

   rea-ches the total control over information by the informations

   corporations, will they take our language, too?"


   In, the public can suggest a new rootname, which is created

   for free and made available publicly for anyone to register under.


   This is a collaborative process, and its popularity is proven by the

   fact that public requests outnumber the amount of private requests

   by 20 to 1. That seems to say something about the preferences of the

   users, and their acceptance of the words as a public resource.


   To Garrin, this is more than just about business. He says,

   " is delivering the net back to the users, and creating an

   economy of scale where registries, providers and users can benefit

   from low cost and value-added services on their networks." He adds,

   "We're shifting the naming paradigm from militarism to democracy,

   and fulfilling the ideal nature of the internet, which is a virtual

   space with no borders."





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