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China goes Alt with root proposal

Because the DNS doesn’t scale … no, really

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

China Telecom has only our best interests at heart, which is why it’s proposing that a Balkanised DNS system would save us from the disastrous effects of failure to scale.

It’s been a long time – a long, long time – since this author has written up an IETF RFC that wasn’t dated April 1, but it’s time to make an exception, for this draft, “DNS extension for autonomous Internet”.

Apparently, the authors believe that an independent root server is necessary to “achieve the goal of Internet autonomy” – which will probably appear to those inclined to negative connotations as if China wants to ‘draft’ the IETF into helping it perfect its firewall.

The proposal is for an autonomous Internet to have “its own independent domain name resolution hierarchy and root DNS servers” (which calls to mind the old ‘alt root’ wars of days gone by). As far as El Reg can untangle the nearly-lethal combination of jargon and translation, the new hierarchy would work like this: if “yahoo” is present in network A (say, China), then www.yahoo.com would work as it does now. If not, then reachability would depend on whether Network B (where yahoo.com is) is mapped into Network A; if so, it would resolve as www.yahoo.com.B.

If El Reg were given to such wild speculation, we might also suggest an element of nationalism in the proposal. Today, a country-level domain such as .au or .cz refers back to the root DNS; under the China Telecom proposal, .cz would refer to its own local root file, as would other autonomous zones (.com would refer to a different root than .cz, in other words). These distributed roots, existing in a peer relationship, would then resolve names existing in each others’ hierarchy.

Or perhaps, to indulge an even wilder and more-improbable speculation, the whole thing is a lobbying position ahead of this year’s ITU meeting, at which the rest of the world seems hell-bent on destroying the Internet by wresting control away from the US. Or something … ®

Bootnote: A hat-tip to Mark Newton, on Twitter @NewtonMark, whose tweet alerted El Reg to this story. ®

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