Feeds

US government dangles internet control contract

Mind games over IANA

Application security programs and practises

The US government has taken the extraordinary step of dangling the contract for control of the internet above the heads of the world.

In a "Sources Sought Notice" put out by the Department of Commerce (DoC) late on Tuesday and only just noticed by the internet community, it is asking for "potential respondents" for the contract to run the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

The IANA "function" is the maintenance of the main root file of the internet, the internet's directory. It decides who runs all the branches of the internet, including all the world's country codes such as .uk for Britain or .de for Germany.

By not stating the process as a "rebid", which the US government is entitled to do, the notice has been widely seen by the industry as a stark warning to internet overseeing organisation ICANN to pull its socks up.

ICANN derives much of its real power from the fact that it holds the IANA contract and has frequently been accused of abusing that control to push its own agenda. Despite the fact that in public the US government is forced to praise ICANN, the two remain entwined in an unhappy marriage.

To make matters all the more complicated, the DoC actually retains control over ICANN and a memorandum of understanding between the two companies is due to expire later this year.

The DoC can't be seen to be abusing its influence, however, for fear the rest of the world will simply split from the current system and build their own versions of the internet. This potential "balkanisation" of the net has become a topic of real concern in the past few months.

As for the actual IANA function, despite a huge increase in its budget, while at the same time doing everything possible to make IANA and ICANN the same thing, it is still running essentially the same system it has for years.

This has infuriated internet registries across the world to the extent that the representative of many ccTLDs, Centr, set up and has been running an alternative test system called e-IANA. e-IANA automates many of the IANA functions and so provides countries with a degree of autonomy over their own internet. So far, ICANN/IANA has steadfastly failed to hand over much of its power in the wider interests on the internet.

It remains uncertain however who will respond to the US government's call. Centr said: "We will continue to work with the IANA to ensure efficient and effective service." NeuStar may be interested in bidding. Afilias is keen to grab new contracts. Even the UK's Nominet could be interested - as long as it manages to pass fundamental changes in its company structure that are up for a vote next month.

But even if the DoC does receive several interested parties, there is no guarantee it will actually put the contract up for rebid.

It is a very interesting development, nonetheless, and an indication that ICANN can not expect to drag its feet any longer.®

Related links

US government notice
e-IANA

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.