Feeds

2005: The year the US government undermined the internet

And no, it's not what you're thinking

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

2005 in review 2005 will be forever seen as the year in which the US government managed to keep unilateral control of the internet, despite widespread opposition by the rest of the world.

However, while this very public spat went on, everyone failed to notice a related change that will have far greater implications for everyday internet users and for the internet itself. That change will see greater state-controlled censorship on the internet, reduce people's ability to use the internet to communicate freely, and leave expansion of the internet in the hands of the people least capable of doing the job.

It is also another example of where the US government's control has - in real, verifiable terms - had a direct, unchecked impact on the internet, despite constant assurances that it takes only a benevolent and passive role. And it has come as a result of the US administration's hugely controversial decision to invade Iraq.

Redelegation

We are talking about the ever-troublesome redelegation process for country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) - like .uk for the United Kingdom, .fr for France and .de for Germany.

There are currently 246 ccTLDs in existence (although there should really only be 240), and every year, there are arguments over who should be entitled to run them. Mostly ownership of the domains is stable but in recent years African governments have been keen to take more of a role in running their country's Internet, causing a glut.

This year, 2005, there have been seven redelegations: The Falkland Islands (.fk); Hong Kong (.hk); Iraq (.iq); Kazakhstan (.kz); South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (.gs); Timor-Leste (.tl); and Tokelau (.tk).

Of these, three were agreed to before July and are of little consequence, being no more than agreed changes in owner or country circumstances.

However, on 28 July 2005 at a special board meeting of internet overseeing organisation ICANN, ownership of both Iraq (.iq) and Kazakhstan (.kz) was changed in a way that soon after saw a change in ownership for South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (.gs) and Tokelau (.tk).

At that meeting, consciously and for the first time, ICANN used a US government-provided reason to turn over Kazakhstan's internet ownership to a government owned and run association without requiring consent from the existing owners. The previous owners, KazNIC, had been created from the country's Internet community.

ICANN then immediately used that "precedent" to hand ownership of Iraq's internet over to another government-run body, without accounting for any objections that the existing owners might have.

Previously it had always been the case that ICANN would take no action (and only ICANN, through IANA, can actually change ownership of a ccTLD) unless both sides were in complete agreement. Now, ICANN had set itself up as the de facto world authority on who should run different parts of the Internet.

Security for virtualized datacentres

Next page: Nuclear option

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.