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Re: Multiple Roots are "a good thing" - Karl Auerbach

  • From: Miles Fidelman
  • Date: Sun Mar 18 14:37:42 2001

On Mon, 19 Mar 2001, Patrick Corliss wrote:

> Miles Fidelman <> wrote:
> > For the Internet to work, at least with currently accepted DNS standards,
> > everyone has to use the same root servers.  Otherwise things can rapidly
> > degenerate into chaos.  The whole point of law and due process is that
> > a duly authorized somebody has to have the authority to insist that
> > everyone use the same root servers.
> Sorry, Miles, it's not true.  It's just ICANN FUD.

I respectfully disagree, at least in part.

> Read carefully, Andrew McLaughlin is saying there's a need for
> uniqueness as otherwise the same name will resolve in different ways.  
> He is arguing, like you, that the *only* way to resolve the problem is
> with a unique (read "ICANN") root.

I probably should have said, in the first place, that if there are
multiple roots, they need to be authoritative. One can envision a number
of ways for that to be implemented - most of which would seem to require a
human arbiter to settle disputes (if not ICANN, then some other body).

re. Karl Auerbach's comments:

> "What I would say to the House Commerce Committee were I invited to testify"
> by Karl Auerbach.
> 2.  Multiple Roots are "a good thing"
> We routinely use directory services in a multiplicity of forms -- telephone
> books published by local telephone companies or entrepreneurs, 411 services in
> various shapes and forms,  web pages, or even on CD-ROMs (indeed a well known
> Supreme Court case involved a telephone directory published on CD-ROM).

I would suggest that telephone books/directories are not an appropriate
analogy. Rather, DNS is a lot closer to the internal plumbing of the net -
more akin to Signalling System #7. I'd guess that for 95% or more of phone
calls, the caller already knows the numeric phone number in question -
while for the Internet, very few people give their email addresses as
mfidelman@ or Telephone directories
are optional in most cases, DNS is not.

Yes, the Internet can function on
numeric IP addresses alone - but unlike the phone network, people don't
give out email addresses or URLs containing their numeric host addresses. 

Regarding the rest of Karl's article, talking aout a completely open world
of multiple root servers. I am simply reminded of the days when we had
rapid additions to the range of area codes an local exchanges. I remember
numerous times when I could not make a call from a company's PBX - because
that PBX's software hadn't been updated, and didn't recognize the validity
of some new area code or exchange. I've also encountered this problem with
software not recognizing new zip codes.

At least with phone numbers and zip codes, we don't have the problem of
overlapping namespaces - there are clearly established legal and
regulatory authorities that manage the telephone numbering and postal code

I suggest that there are three very specific problems that need to be

- propagation of new namespace information

- uniqueness of namespace information.

- avoiding namespace hijacking

As long as there is a single set of root nameservers, run by a single,
accountable organization, these are easy problems. As soon as one admits
of multiple root servers, the following problems have to be addressed:

- the operational problems of dealing with incomplete propogation of
information (particularly when dealing with the clueless: "what do you
mean you can't find my web site, I registered it with")

- an official way to deal with conflicts between overlapping top level
domains (dealing with the trademark issues is bad enough, but where does
someone go to fight out ownership of "" when 100s of different
people register it with competing registrars) -- I'm not saying we can't
come up with an arbitration scheme and somebody with the clout to
enforce decisions, just that one will be needed. In the current system, as
with phone numbers and area codes, there simply is no way that the same
domain can be assigned to multiple people.

- a similarly offical mechanism for dealing with conflicts when different
registrars, above board or otherwise, provide different information for
the same domain

In other words, we need an authorized international body with the clout to
oversee the whole mess. But then, isn't that what ICANN is supposed to be?
(Or would you rather have the ITU oversee the Internet?)

Speaking as someone who hosts a whole bunch of web sites and web sites,
I see a world of profit-motivated, competing rootservers as creating an
incredible number of problems that I'd just as soon not have to deal with.

The Center for Civic Networking 	    PO Box 600618
Miles R. Fidelman, President &		    Newtonville, MA 02460-0006
Director, Municipal Telecommunications 
Strategies Program			    617-558-3698 fax: 617-630-8946

Information Infrastructure: Public Spaces for the 21st Century 
Let's Start With: Internet Wall-Plugs Everywhere 
Say It Often, Say It Loud: "I Want My Internet!" 

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