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ITU chief offers hand of friendship to ICANN

Kevin Murphy, December 3, 2012, Domain Policy

Are ICANN and the International Telecommunications Union going to start playing nicely?

That’s the message coming out of the ITU’s World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai this morning, when ITU secretary general Hamadoun Toure said the two organizations are “complementary”.

Addressing his “good friend”, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade, during the WCIT opening ceremony, Toure said:

I have invited Fadi to recognize here the impact of ICANN on the development of Internet, and I’ve said this, this morning in our heads of delegations meeting that I believe we should be reaching out and them accepting here means that they are on the same road.

I think if you help us, we can walk the talk and I believe I can count on you and the words that I received when I heard of the acceptance of Fadi Chehade’ to this meeting was a testimony of everyone here, believing that it’s time to start working together to be complementary and to work together. And I believe we have started the first step of that.

Chehade himself addressed delegates during the opening ceremony too, speaking partly in Arabic, his first language.

WCIT was widely feared by certain countries — notably the US — due to concerns that some governments would try to assert authority over ICANN’s internet governance functions.

That fear seems to have been calmed in recent weeks, but the substantive policy work at WCIT, which runs until December 13, will be the real test of the ITU’s relationship with ICANN.

Unsnubbed? ICANN brass get tickets to ITU curtain-raiser

Kevin Murphy, November 28, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN’s chairman and CEO have been invited to the World Conference on International Telecommunications next week, as “special guests” of the International Telecommunications Union.

It’s a token gesture of friendship at best, with the invitation only good for the opening ceremony, rather than any substantive policy discussions.

But it’s a contrast to the ITU’s treatment of former ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom, who was snubbed when he asked for observer status for an ITU Plenipotentiary in 2010.

This year’s invitation is not, however, a reversal of that policy. ICANN’s not technically going to be an observer this time either.

WCIT, which begins on Monday in Dubai, will see the ITU’s member governments convene to redraft their governing International Telecommunications Regulations.

There’s been a bit of a commotion in the US over the last several months over the potential for a power grab by the ITU. Some governments would sooner the ITU handled ICANN’s functions.

But the conventional wisdom at the moment — supported by ITU chief Hamadoun Toure’s strenuous denials — is that ICANN is probably safe.

ITU conferences are notoriously opaque. You can’t even download policy proposals unless you’re a member, and getting an invitation to attend in person has some political value.

That’s why anyone interested in knowing what’s likely to go down at WCIT could do worse than check out .nxt, where Kieren McCarthy earned huge kudos this week by publishing over 200 previously secret documents.

China proposes to split up the DNS

Kevin Murphy, June 18, 2012, Domain Policy

A trio of Chinese techies have proposed a new IETF standard to enable governments to break up the Domain Name System along national borders.

Named “DNS Extension for Autonomous Internet (AIP)”, the spec describes a way to operate alternate DNS root servers within national boundaries using gateways for translation.

For internet users subscribed to one of these “AIP” networks, DNS requests would carry an extra TLD, such as .a or .b, to flag the fact that the requests are headed for an alternate root:

Domain node “www.yahoo.com” in network B is expressed as “www.yahoo.com.B” for its external domain name.

Written in broken English, the Internet Draft is a poorly masked description of a way to install government censorship via officially sanctioned domain name system Balkanization.

It appears to be designed to enable governments to cut ICANN and the authoritative DNS root out of the picture entirely in favor of a national peering system more akin to traditional telecoms networks.

The paper reads:

In order to realize the transition from Internet to Autonomous Internet, each partition of current Internet should first realize possible self-government and gradually reduce its dependence on the foreign domain names, such as COM, NET et al.

It is not likely the whole Internet can be transformed synchronally in one time. In order not to affect existing domain name resolution before the Internet core part transforms into an AIP network, any country can set up an AIP DNS independently and connect to the Internet through the original link; or any two countries in agreement can set up their AIP networks and connect to each others.

The paper was written by Yuping Diao of Guangdong Commercial College, Yongping Diao of China Telecom and Ming Liao of China Mobile.

It’s just an Internet Draft at this stage, and probably nothing to get too worked up about, but it does reflect the Bigger Picture framing the ICANN expansion of the DNS.

During the ITU’s World Conference on International Telecommunications this December, backwards governments are expected to proposed a greater degree of government control over the internet.