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nettime: Much Ado About Names

Much Ado About Names

The internet naming system, known as the "domain name system"
has made the transition to the private sphere from the once
taxpayer supported public sphere, under guardianship of the
National Science Foundation.  The current operator of the
name registry, the InterNIC (internet network information center),
is Network Solutions, Inc.who now enjoys a highly profitable monopoly.

Network Solutions, Inc., who is owned by Scientific Applications
International Corporation (SAIC) began charging for the once gratis
name registrations in September 1995 as the internet was well on its
transition to a commercial marketplace.  Their registration fee of
$100 for the first 2 years of service has richly lined NSI's coffers
as the number of registrations reached around 50,000 per month during
1996.  During this interval, the limitations of the current naming
paradigm became obvious as companies discovered that they had to race,
or in some cases litigate, to secure their internet identities,
""--only to discover that it was already assigned.
Some, like golf protege, Tiger Woods, became victims of name
speculators who registered famous names in hopes of selling them
back to their rightful owners.  The holders of ""
were said to be willing to give the REAL Tiger Woods his name back
only if they could do his website!

Part of the problem lies not just in human greed, but in the
limited number of the so-called "top level domains" administered
by the InterNIC, "com." "edu." "org." "net." and "gov.".
Under this system, which has its roots in the US Dept. of Defense
bureaucracy, was designed to identify the purpose of computers on
the internet.  The "com." domain was the division given to commercial
network addresses, who at the time the system was established, were
a minority of networks on the interet--the majority being "mil."
"gov." "edu." and "net.".  Now that the number of commercial networks
has grown beyond any scale ever imagined by the architects of the internet,
the "com." domain has proven to have reached its limits.

Users have been frustrated by the limitations,
speculation, and buraucracy associated with registering an address on
the internet with the InterNIC/NSI/SAIC monopoly.  Pressure on the
committee that assigns unique parameters on the internet, the Internet
Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) has pushed IANA to for an ad-hoc
committee to decide how to deal with the domain name "shortages".

IANA has put forth a controversial plan to license comapnies who
wish to compete in the market for domain name service--in a market-
place which was recently deregulated, and in which IANA has no
congressional authority to impose regulation, or levy taxes
--or as they frame it, collect license fees: a $1000 non-refundable
application fee, a $2000 annual license fee, plus 2% of comapany
revenues.  IANA claims that these funds will be spent on maintaining
the rootservers--the computers which hold the central name dabase.
The computers holding the domain name database are currently run by
an inner circle, most of whom are members of the IANA, the server at
University of Southern California, USC is run by Mr. John Postel, the
head of the IANA.  The locations of the current rootservers include:

Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN-DOM)
   Department of Defense High Performance
   Computing Modernization Working Group,
   Networking Subcommittee
   c/o Director
   U.S. Army Research Laboratory
   Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005-5067

   Domain Name: DREN.NET

   Administrative Contact:
      Reschly, Robert J., Jr.  (RJR3)  reschly@ARL.ARMY.MIL
      (410) 278-6808/8676 (DSN) 298-6808/8676
   Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
      Fielding, James L.  (JLF)  jamesf@ARL.MIL

 University of Maryland (UMD-DOM)
   Academic Information Technology Services
   Network Operations Center
   Bldg 224, Room 1301
   College Park, MD 20742

   Domain Name: UMD.EDU

   Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
      Sneeringer, Gerry  (GS307)  sneeri@NI.UMD.EDU
      (301) 405-2996

Network Solutions, Inc. (INTERNIC-DOM)
   505 Huntmar Park Drive
   Herndon, VA 22070

   Domain Name: INTERNIC.NET

   Administrative Contact:
      Network Solutions, Inc.  (HOSTMASTER)  hostmaster@INTERNIC.NET
      (703) 742-4777 (FAX) (703) 742-4811
   Technical Contact, Zone Contact, Billing Contact:
      Kosters, Mark A.  (MAK21)  markk@NETSOL.COM
      (703) 742-4795 (FAX) (703) 742-4811

 Los Nettos (LN-DOM)
   USC Information Sciences Institute  4676 Admiralty Way
   Marina del Rey, CA 90292-6695

   Domain Name: LN.NET

   Administrative Contact:
      Postel, Jon  (JBP)  POSTEL@ISI.EDU  <-----Mr. Postel is on the IANA******
      (310) 822-1511
   Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
      Woolf, Suzanne  (SW145)  WOOLF@ISI.EDU
      (310) 822-1511
   Billing Contact:
      Anderson, Celeste  (CA534)  celeste@ISI.EDU
      (310) 822-1511

 University of Maryland (UMD-DOM)
   Academic Information Technology Services
   Network Operations Center
   Bldg 224, Room 1301
   College Park, MD 20742

   Domain Name: UMD.EDU

   Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
      Sneeringer, Gerry  (GS307)  sneeri@NI.UMD.EDU
      (301) 405-2996

U.S. Sprint/NSF International Connectivity Project (ICP-DOM)
   13221 Woodland Park Road
   Herndon, VA 22071

   Domain Name: ICP.NET

   Administrative Contact:
      Kurt, Gastrock  (GK368)  gastrock@SPRINT.NET
   Technical Contact:
      Kilmer, Hank  (HK468)  hank@SPRINT.NET
      1-800-230-5108 (FAX) 703-904-2292
   Zone Contact, Alternate Contact:
      Sprint Network Info. & Support Center  (SPRINT-NOC)
      (800) 669-8303
   Billing Contact:
      Goel, Vab  (VAB-US)  vgoel@SPRINT.NET

   c/o SUNET-KTH
   S-100 44 Stockholm

   Domain Name: NORDU.NET

   Administrative Contact:
      Eriksen, Bjorn [System Manager]  (BE10)  BER@SUNIC.SUNET.SE
      +46 8 790 60 00
   Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
      Liman, Lars-Johan  (LL846)  LIMAN@SUNET.SE
      +46 8 790 65 60 (FAX) +46 8 24 11 79

Vixie Enterprises (VIX-DOM)
   Star Route Box 159A
   Woodside, CA 94062

   Domain Name: VIX.COM

   Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact, Billing Contact:
      Vixie, Paul  (PV15)  paul@VIX.COM
      (415) 747-0204

DOD Network Information Center (NIPR-DOM)
   Government Systems, Inc.
   Attn: NSI (Hostmaster)
   14200 Park Meadow Dr., Suite 200
   Chantilly, VA 20151

   Domain Name: NIPR.MIL

   Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
      Government Systems, Inc.  (HOSTMASTER)
      703-802-4535 (FAX)703-802-8376

IANA's plan, which has no congressional mandate,
is imposing regulation on a deregulated market, subsidizing corporations,
and collecting double taxes on US and International companies, as evidenced
by the identities of the networks who would reap the benefits of any
fees imposed on other registries.

To add insult to injury, is to examine the profile of SAIC,
a 2 billion dollar company with strong ties to the Pentagon and the
NSA.  SAIC is an employee-owned company of 20,000 with about 450
offices around the globe.  Its current board of directors include
former National Security Agency chief Bobby Inman, Former Defense
Secretary Melvin Laird, and the former head of research and development
for the Pentagon, Donald Hicks.  Ex-CIA director Robert Gates, Secretary
of Defense William Perry and CIA Director John Deutsch have been past
board members.  Eighty-three percent of SAIC's $2 billion annual
revenue comes from government contracts, including defense, intelligence
and law enforcement contracts.  SAIC is designing new information
systems for the Pentagon, helping to automate the FBI's computerized
fingerprint identification system, and last year won a $200million
contract to provide "information support" to the IRS.

Enter the free market.  Individual comapnies cropped up in
response to the command economy of artificial shortages that
had been imposed by a US-centric, militaristic bureaucracy
and created new networks of rootservers outside the "sanctioned"
servers on which all connections on the internet depend.
If your name does not appear in the "sanctioned" database
(the rootservers detailed above), your name will not be found
everywhere on the internet....only other computers who check
the "outsider" database will be able to resolve the new domain
names created by the independent companies.--and there are
already around 200 new possible names under which one can
register on these new services.  This poses a problem for
the independent upstart name registries because, although
they may have a fully functional rootserver system in place,
and a fully automated and operational registration service
in place, they are essentially frozen out of service becuase
the de-facto rootservers, controlled by members of IANA decide
which entries will be in the database of the "sanctioned" rootservers.
Hence, the IANA has a vested interest in protecting their
control over the "whos-who" list of internet networks, as do
their compatriots at Network Solutions, Inc. SAIC, and the
government agencies who do business with them.

For an example of a fully functional,
independent name registry, please go to

For some further information on the controversy, please go to
this is a "realaudio" webcast between John McChesney of NPR,
Paul Garrin of, and Simpson Garfinkel of WIRED magazine.

Also see,
"Rebellion Over Who Controls the Net"
by Christine Biederman and Jamie Murphy
(N.Y. Times, "Cybertimes", November 23, 1996)

"Internet Domain Names: Whose Domain is This?"
by Robert Shaw,Advisor, Global Information Infrastructure
Information Services Department, International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
Geneva, Switzerland
(Presented at the workshop "Coordination and Administration of the
Internet" held at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard
University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, September 9-10, 1996).

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