back to article Approved: Master plan to end US gov control of internet's highest level

A plan to end US government control of the top level of the internet was formally approved Wednesday when six different internet groups voted to send it on to the board of DNS overseer ICANN. Gathering at an ICANN meeting in Marrakesh, and after two years of work on the plan to transition control of the IANA contract to ICANN …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If things get bad enough...

    "The result of the decision not to ensure the internet community had a legal right to force change will likely haunt it for many years to come. ®"

    Not necessarily. I see no way for ICANN to enforce its rules if the people who are paying for the root nameservers object to them.

    "Do the root server operators work under contract to ICANN?

    No, but the role is far from informal. The operators of F, K, M, and I have exchanged letters of understanding with ICANN (using the same language in the case of all but F)."

    In other words, if they turn into an internet based version of FIFA then the main root servers can give them two fingers up and walk away to do their own thing. See for more information.

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: If things get bad enough...

      "The result of the decision not to ensure the internet community had a legal right to force change will likely haunt it for many years to come."

      And as AC said above, nameserver operators can do their own thing. But to me it is not only them who can walk, it is the rest of us. As it stands people already operate other alternative systems within the net. OpenNIC has its own nameservers and TLDs, for example. Also, Tor is quite independent. I'm not necessarily advocating for those, but just saying that there are alternatives and many more can be implemented if ICANN becomes too much of a drag. In fact I think the new master plan is going to push development in that direction and ICANN's thirst for power is just going to lead to increased fragmentation. Perhaps that's good. Perhaps it's bad. But that is another discussion.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        The Internet is made to route around blockage

        If ICANN becomes a blocking point, I am certain the Internet WILL find a way around it.

        That is why I find all this posturing totally ridiculous. ICANN does not own the Internet, nor does it have the power to impose anything on people that do not work for it and do not need it to attain their goals. The only reason ICANN still has any sort of position in the matter is imply due to the professionalism of all the rest of the Internet which, for some reason that is beyond me, accept this farce of an organisation as the lesser of two evils (the other being what, I wonder ?).

        I can perfectly envisage the day that DNS operators will simply get together and say "okay, enough is enough - from now on WE decide what we're doing and we're setting up an independent committee to handle that".

        And there is eff all ICANN, or anybody else for that matter, will be able to do about it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You assume the root servers are in control

      They are not. Unless you run your own nameserver, you are depending on the delegation of the nameservers you use - probably your ISP's. If something "big" enough happens that the root server admins decide to take a walk, do you think they will all act in unison? Maybe, maybe not. Do you think that all countries will decide that's for the best, or that their governments or leading ISPs might set up their own alternate roots that become the defacto roots for citizens of that country?

      The result of discord large enough to cause the root server admins to break from ICANN would probably fragment the internet. Maybe it doesn't matter for those in the west, since the US and EU are likely to be on the same page, but if you live elsewhere who knows where things fall. Sure, you could point to a different nameserver or run your own and choose the root you want, but you can do that today. Few do, because the alternate roots are mostly useless for general internet use (yeah there's the dark web, but that's 95% criminal or at least dark grey)

      Sites like Amazon, CNN and the Register aren't going to set up residence on all the alternate roots that might spring up if the internet fractures. Large swathes of people might simply be cut off - they could reach them, but they won't configure themselves to be able to do so either due to ignorance or because they don't care to bother, so the effect will be the same. We might see a blog with spy photos of the next iPhone or something, that links to a site in China but we can't follow the link because it relies on use of an alternate DNS root we aren't set up for - and we don't know which one (maybe we'll need an http extension to list the DNS root in a URL...)

      In a decade we might look back fondly on how small the internet made the world seem back in 2016, if the internet and web fractures into a dozen pieces down the road.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Nobody is fit to govern. The yanks pride themselves in being the least worst country in the world, but that's no longer true. However every country has nasty anti-internet politics too.

    In conclusion: We're screwed

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Nobody

      Exactly. TLA's and FLA's love the Internet but they don't like being restricted to what they can slurp. Governments hate it because of the transparency it provides. People post videos of crimes, remind government officials of what they've promised. The Internet is easy access for human rights violations, misdirected bombs, dissidents, very nasty groups recruiting.. all the things government doesn't want.

      It would probably make most governments very happy of the Internet went away or became so fragmented it was useless. They would have an easier time controlling the population if things had to go back to snail mail, dead tree press, and electronic (TV or Radio) news.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nobody

      I'm not sure, we might still be the least worst - the bar in the US seems pretty low but looking around at what other countries are doing I can't help but find a lot of dysfunction everywhere I look.

      We'd probably be better handing off the internet to a benevolent dictator like Linus. I'm sure he doesn't want it, so let's saddle one of the people most responsible for the modern internet like Vint Cerf or Tim Berners-Lee with running it. Its their fault, so they get drafted with this thankless task :)

  3. Peter Prof Fox

    I could govern the whole of the Internet

    For a very modest fee. (Tell me what do I have to do? Will it take more than a morning every other week?)

    I don't have 'baggage'. I don't have 'sponsorship' from corporates or governments.

    What I don't understand is what the governance of the Internet has to do with money.

    1. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: I could govern the whole of the Internet

      "What I don't understand is what the governance of the Internet has to do with money."

      I'm sorry. While you made a good impression with the panel and we found your views interesting and well argued, we don't feel you're the person we're looking for this role.

      [sound of fat manila envelope sliding across table]

      But perhaps we shouldn't be hasty with our decisions.... tell me, do you play golf? There's a lovely course in Bermuda. It's right next to the beach...

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Opportunity missed

    The governments should have insisted on ICANN reform before handing over authority. Now's the only time it can be done short of either chaos or all the root servers agreeing; i.e. chaos. Unless, of course, the US govt refuses the plan as it gets handed to them.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: Opportunity missed

      "Those governments opposed highlighted [PDF] the fact that the GAC remains an advisory committee and does not have any input into the selection of board members. They also argued that the proposal was unfairly limiting the influence of governments when compared to other groups, since for the rest of them, the two-thirds rule will remain."

      The governments, represented in the GAC, have no power to insist on anything, and that is a very good thing. However bad ICANN is, it would be worse if it had to listen to governments.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cleaning up a broken lightbulb.

    "A formal proposal to give the internet community a legal right to interject was beaten back by ICANN's staff who claimed, among other things, that such a move would be illegal".

    The fact they see this illegal with no mention on how they could work the problem to make it legal shows to me their true intrests along with just how hard they can work a problem.

    IANA...ICANN. Tomato...Tomata.

    P.S. while I type this from a mobile phone in the USA to a server in the UK, I'm wondering what's so bad about the internet's current state to rush it into anyones hands. Just because something is broken, doesn't mean you can't fuck it more and make a bigger mess.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: Cleaning up a broken lightbulb.

      "A formal proposal to give the internet community a legal right to interject was beaten back by ICANN's staff who claimed, among other things, that such a move would be illegal".

      "Illegal" is a strange choice of word here. What they really mean, I think, is "legally unworkable". That I can believe, because as far as I understand corporation law (which is not very far) the Board is by definition sovereign. So the only power that matters is the power to fire the Board. I would observe that this is easier than firing the US Govt.

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