[NetBehaviour] Bush administration to keep control of internet's central computers

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon Jul 4 15:43:33 CEST 2005

*Bush administration to keep control of internet's central computers*

Gary Younge in New York and agencies
Saturday July 2, 2005
The Guardian

The Bush administration has decided to retain control over the principal 
computers which control internet traffic in a move likely to prompt 
global opposition, it was claimed yesterday.

The US had pledged to turn control of the 13 computers known as root 
servers - which inform web browsers and email programs how to direct 
internet traffic - over to a private, international body.

But on Thursday the US reversed its position, announcing that it will 
maintain control of the computers because of growing security threats 
and the increased reliance on the internet for global communications. A 
Japanese government official yesterday criticised the move, claiming it 
will lend momentum to the debate about who controls the information flow 

Article continues
"When the internet is being increasingly utilised for private use, by 
business and so forth, there is a societal debate about whether it's 
befitting to have one country maintaining checks on that ... It's likely 
to fuel that debate," said Masahiko Fujimoto, of the ministry of 
internal affairs and communications' data communications division.

The computers serve as master directories that contain 
government-approved lists of the roughly 260 suffices used, such as .com 
or .co.uk. Anyone who uses the web interacts with them every day. But a 
policy decision by the US could, at a stroke, make all sites ending in a 
certain suffix unreachable.

Despite many doomsday scenarios, the most recent US decision will have 
little if any immediate effect on internet users, and given the 
internet's anarchic nature it may simply represent a desire to assert 
state control even when it is not possible to do so.

Claudia Bernett, 32, a digital design analyst in New York, said: "Scary 
as it seems, because of the nature of the internet, I think they'll be 
hardpressed to create a coherent system that is capable of the kind of 
monitoring they hope for ... Eventually, the people participating in the 
system will find the technological means to evade the watchful eye."

Experts say that in the worst-case scenario, countries that refused to 
accept US control of the main computers could establish their own 
separate domain name system, with addresses in some places that others 
would not be able to reach, making the world wide web give way to 
discrete, regional web domains.

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