Feeds

2005: The year the US government undermined the internet

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

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Legal semantics

ICANN's efforts to turn itself into the Internet's government in this area stretch the phrase "redelegation" itself. Despite repeated requests by ccTLD owners themselves, it is ICANN that insists on calling the process of changing the name of the administrative or technical owners of a particular ccTLD "delegation".

The operators themselves prefer the terms "change of manager", "change of technical contact" and, in the case of more technical changes "change of name servers".

The advantage of the term "delegation" is that it has legal connotations. If you are delegating something, it automatically implies that the delegator has some form of legal authority over the delegee. This is something that most country code managers would strongly disagree with in the case of ICANN.

The case of Iraq

Why did the US government allow this sleight-of-hand from an organisation that it has overall control over? Simple: Iraq.

When the US government took over Afghanistan in 2001, it was fortunate in that the current ccTLD owner was killed during bombing of Kabul. It simple forged the man's signature on a piece of paper handing over control to the US-created authority and the job was done.

Control of Iraq's domain was far more complicated however. The .iq domain was registered instead to two brothers living in the US. The Elashi brothers and other members of their family at the time were also in US jail awaiting trial for funding terrorists - which in the end amounted to shipping computer parts to Libya and Syria and for which they all received hefty sentences.

The US was keen to turn over Iraq's internet over the US-run administration but the whole process was political dynamite. Head of the temporary government, Paul Bremer, wrote to ICANN head Paul Twomey requesting ownership of .iq, but Twomey had to say it wasn't possible because the rules dictated that the Elashi brothers agree - something that was pretty unlikely. We only found out about that letter a year later however, and the letter does not appear on ICANN's website.

The situation infuriated the US administration which immediately sought to change how things were done. At the same time however, the US government could not be seen to be demanding that the .iq domain be handed over to whoever it said, because it would undermine its very position at the head of the Internet. It was also inevitable that any such move would attract media attention and criticism.

And so a method was devised by Washington and ICANN to ensure that the rules could be bent. And so they have been. As a result no one single soul is better off, and governments have been given control over the internet by the backdoor. Now you know. ®

Related stories

Iraq domain owner convicted
All hail the new TLD - .ax
Niue is dead! Long live .nu!
Bush administration annexes internet

Related links

IANA report on .iq [pdf]
IANA report on .kz [pdf]
US internet "principles"

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.