ACN 9-1: Battle Over the Internet's Future

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Jay Robert Hauben

Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99

Amateur Computerist Vol 9 No 1 Battle Over the Future of the Internet

On June 5, 1998 the US government issued a White Paper describing
its intention to privatize the ownership, control and administration
of the crucial elements of the Internet. These include the allocation
of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, the allocation of Internet domain
names, the maintenance of the Internet protocol and other numbers and
parameters, the oversight of the protocol and standards development
process, and the maintenance of the root name servers, especially the
Authoritative root name server, all crucial to the existence and
operation of the Internet. Privatization would represent a major
change for the Internet and there has been an international fight over
what should happen. The Amateur Computerist Vol 9 No 1 is a an
examination of questions raised by the U.S. government's efforts to
privatize the Internet.

One question discussed in this issue is the proper role for
governments in maintaining and scaling the Internet. The article, "The
Role of Government in the Evolution of the Internet" first published
in 1994, provides a description of the changing role that the U.S.
government has played in the creation and development of the Internet.
It raises the question of what role will government, both the U.S.
government, and other governments around the world, need to play in
the further development of the Internet in order for these networking
developments to continue to grow and spread more broadly and widely.

Another question discussed is, "The Internet: Public or
Private?" In testimony submitted to Congress, in a proposal for a
scientific research prototype to protect the Internet as an
International Public Treasure, and in a letter to Congressman Tom
Bliley, it is argued that the communications essence of the Internet
requires public protection. Also historical perspective is provided in
the first installment of an analysis of the MsgGroup mailing list that
helped establish the foundation for the worldwide success of email and
communication in general using the Internet.

Another article documents some of the complexity in the battle
that started as if it was over domain name allocation and
administration but seems really over the control of the Internet
itself. It is called, "Herding Cats and Sacred Cows". In it the author
wonders what all the talk of 'governance' is really about and says he
has "become a profound cynic about private-sector self governance."

An article in the issue takes a long range look at the domain
name system. Some history of telephone call naming and numbering is
looked at to suggest that the domain name problems of today may have
only a short life.

The issue also contains reports from INET98 and the IFWP
meeting in Geneva and letters from Congressman Tom Bliley to Ira
Magaziner and U.S. Secretary of Commerce William Daley. The contents
help broaden the basis to look at and understand what is at stake in
the battle over the future of the Internet.

The issue is available via email from: or

It can also be accessed at:

The individual articles are at:

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