Karl Auerbach

Karl Auerbach

Chief Technical Officer at InterWorking Labs
Joined on June 14, 2003 – United States
Total Post Views: 541,475

About

Karl Auerbach, is a former member of the Board of Directors of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). He was the elected "at-large" representative for Bermuda, Canada, Greenland, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and the United States to the Board of Directors of ICANN.  Mr. Auerbach is the Chief Technical Officer of InterWorking Labs, Inc., a provider of tools to detect and repair network problems and assist protocol Implementers.  He was formerly a senior researcher in the Advanced Internet Architecture group in the Office of the Chief Strategy Officer at Cisco Systems. In addition to his technical work, Mr. Auerbach has been an attorney in California since 1978, a member of the Intellectual Property Section of he California State Bar, and was named Yuen Fellow of Law and Technology at the California Institute of Technology and Loyola of Los Angeles Law School.

Except where otherwise noted, all postings by Karl Auerbach on CircleID are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Featured Blogs

Domain Names Are Fading From User View

The internet has changed and evolved ever since it's ancestors first came to life in the late 1960's. Some technology fades away and is forgotten; other aspects continue but are overlaid, like geological sediments, so that they are now longer visible but are still present under the surface. The Domain Name System - both the technology of DNS and the deployed naming hierarchy we all use - are among those aspects of the internet that, although they feel solid and immutable, are slowly changing underneath our feet. more»

Internet: Quo Vadis (Where are you going?)

Articles, blogs, and meetings about the internet of the future are filled with happy, positive words like "global", "uniform", and "open". The future internet is described in ways that seem as if taken from a late 1960's Utopian sci-fi novel: the internet is seen as overcoming petty rivalries between countries, dissolving social rank, equalizing wealth, and bringing universal justice. If that future is to be believed, the only obstacle standing between us and an Arcadian world of peace and harmony is that the internet does not yet reach everyone... more»

NTIA on IoT - ICANN 2? And Reconsidering IoT as Distributed Process Control

NTIA has published a Notice for Public comment that is titled "The Benefits, Challenges, and Potential Roles for the Government in Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things". This could become ICANN-2, bigger, longer, and uncut; and with a much greater impact on the future direction of the internet. However, my thoughts on this go well beyond the possibility of another ICANN. more»

What's Wrong With the FCC's Consumer Broadband Test?

The FCC recently published some tools to let consumers measure some internet characteristics. The context is the FCC's "National Broadband Plan". I guess the FCC wants to gather data about the kind of internet users receive today so that the National Broadband Plan, whatever it may turn out to be, actually improves on the status quo. The motivation is nice but the FCC's methodology is technically weak. more»

Network Neutrality, UPS, and FedEx

I buy a lot of things that are delivered by UPS or FedEx. And I kinda like to watch the progress of the shipments. Now we all know that UPS and FedEx have different grades of service -- Overnight, Two Day, Three Day, etc. And faster deliver costs more. Several years ago UPS and FedEx would frequently deliver a Two Day package the next day, i.e. they would effectively elevate the class of service. more»

Google Buys VeriSign (not really)

No that's not really happening, Google is not buying VeriSign. But given Google's ravenous appetite for data, it might find VeriSign quite attractive. VeriSign has both root domain name servers and servers for the .com and .net top level domains (TLDs). VeriSign could data mine the queries coming into those servers and produce a very valuable real-time stream of what users on the net are doing... Google just bought Postini -- and one would have to be fairly naive to believe that Google does not intend to dredge through all... more»

Putting Some Circuit Breakers Into DNS to Protect The Net

There are a lot of bad, but smart, people out there on the net. They are quick to find and capitalize on vulnerabilities, particularly those vulnerabilities in mass market software. These bad folks are quite creative when it comes to making it hard to locate and shutdown the computers involved. For example, a virus that takes over a victim's computer might communicate with its control point, or send its captured/stolen information, by looking up a domain name. Normally domain names are somewhat static - the addresses they map to don't change very frequently - typically changes occur over periods measured in months or longer. more»

Are We Slowly Losing Control of the Internet?

I have long been intrigued by the question of how do we turn the internet into a lifeline grade infrastructure... My hope that this will occur soon or even within decades is diminishing. Most of us observe, almost daily, how even well established infrastructures tend to crumble when stressed, even slightly... I was at the O'Reilly Etel conference last week. The content was impressive and the people there were frequently the primary actors in the creation and deployment of VOIP. However, not once during the three days did I hear a serious discussion by a speaker or in the hallways about how this evolving system would be managed, monitored, diagnosed, or repaired. more»

Internet Zombies

Today on Dave Farber's IP list, someone revived the ancient argument that ICANN imposes limits on the number of top level domains (TLDs) because to have more than a few will cause DNS to wobble and cause the internet to collapse. Although long discredited, that argument hangs around like a zombie. ICANN has never been able to adduce a shred of proof that there is anything to support that assertion... more»

Questioning "Net Neutrality"

I'm kinda foxed by the some of the discussion going on about "Net Neutrality". The internet was designed from the outset not to be content neutral. Even before there was an IP protocol there were precedence flags in the NCP packet headers. And the IP (the Internet Protocol) has always had 8 bits that are there for the sole purpose of marking the precedence and type-of-service of each packet. It has been well known since the 1970's that certain classes of traffic -- particularly voice (and yes, there was voice on the internet even during the 1970's) -- need special handling... more»

Europe is to the US Controlled GPS as Europe is to the US Controlled DNS Root?

An Analogy: Europe is to the US controlled GPS as Europe is to the US controlled DNS root? That's not a very good title is it? But it does express the point I want to make. This week the European Union launched the first satellite of its own global positioning system, Galileo. One has to wonder why the Europeans feel they need to do this. Isn't the GPS system run by the United States a perfectly good system? more»

ICANN Does Something Technical!

I've often said that ICANN regulates the business of buying and selling of domain names and that ICANN's claim that it coordinates technical matters to preserve the stability of DNS is a fantasy. Well I am proven wrong. ICANN has done something technical. ICANN has issued Guidelines for the Implementation of Internationalized Domain Names, Draft Version 2 [PDF] (pending approval by the ICANN board.) It's only four pages long, but those few pages contain a lot of significant material. more»

Forgotten Principles of Internet Governance

Suddenly internet governance has become a hot topic. Words and phrases fly back and forth but minds rarely meet. We do not have discussion, we have chaos. We are not moving forwards towards a resolution. It's time to step back and review some basic principles. 1. Principle: The internet is here to serve the needs of people (and organizations of people); people are not here to serve the internet. Corollary: If internet technology does not meet the needs of users and organizations than it is technology that should be the first to flex and change. more»

About Those Root Servers

There is an interesting note on the ITU Strategy and Policy Unit Newslog about Root Servers, Anycast, DNSSEC, WGIG and WSIS about a presentation to ICANN's GAC. (The GAC website appears to be offline or inaccessible today.) The interesting sentence is this: Lack of formal relationship with root server operators is a public policy issue relevant to Internet governance. It is stated that this is "wrong" and "not a way to solve the issues about who edits the [root] zone file." Let's look at that lack of a formal relationship... more»

The Power of Google

The other night I was chatting with my wife about things and I mentioned a TV show that I saw back in the 1980's about a home-brew nuclear device in which the bomb-squad person who cuts the cliche red or green wire makes the wrong choice. So I went to Google to find the movie. I had a hard time finding it. (I eventually did - it was the 1983 show Special Bulletin.) But along the way I more than once wondered whether my memory was playing games on me. The meta-thought that came about was this... more»

An Infrastructure TLD: Avoiding the Side Effects of Today's .Net

I've mentioned before that there is something special about the .net top level domain - in particular .net is the place where the legacy root DNS servers and most of the TLD servers are to be found. Thus, if .net were to wobble there is more than a strong chance that the DNS root and other TLDs would also begin to wobble. This kind of cross-dependency is something that A) is a risk to overall internet stability and B) is something that ICANN seems utterly unable to perceive. more»

Protecting the Internet: Certified Attachments and Reverse Firewalls?

In many respects the internet is going to hell in a hand basket. Spam, phishing, DNS poisoning, DDoS attacks, viruses, worms, and the like make the net a sick place. It is bad enough that bad folks are doing this. But it is worse that just about every user computer on the net offers a nice fertile place for such ill behavior to be secretly planted and operated as a zombie under the control of a distant and unknown zombie farmer. ...Some of us are coming to the converse point of view that the net is being endangered by the masses of ill-protected machines operated by users. more»

The .net Top Level Domain and Cross-Coupled Failures

The .net Top Level Domain (TLD) contains the names of the main group of DNS root servers as well as the names of the servers for several other large TLDs, such as .com, .org, .arpa and .mil. Most of the focus about the .net redelegation has concerned the quality of the registration systems. But that is a minor matter next to the quality of the name server operation.  more»

Are We Attending the Right ICANN Meeting?

I have no idea who wrote that wonderful piece, Time for Reformation of the Internet, posted by Susan Crawford. (It wasn't me - I never use the word "netizen".) Elliot Noss of Tucows wrote a partial rebuttal, I must be attending the wrong ICANN meetings. Elliot's company, Tucows, has been a leader in registrar innovation and competition. And Tucows has constantly been among the most imaginative, progressive, responsible, and socially engaged companies engaged in these debates. ...But the points made by Time for Reformation of the Internet go far beyond registries and registrars. more»

An Open Letter to NTIA, ICANN, and IANA

I am writing this note in order to express my concern about an impending change in the root of the Domain Name System (DNS) and two of the largest Top Level Domains (TLDs). I am concerned that there is a risk of disruption to the net that has not been adequately evaluated and I am concerned that this change is being deployed without adequate monitoring or safeguards. more»

Comments to ICANN's Whois TF3

My general impression of the Task Force 3 (TF3) output was that it was a prettified way of accusing the community of internet users as being cheats and liars and demanding that the costs of trademark enforcement be offloaded from the trademark owners onto the backs of domain name registrants and the DNS registration industry. (It is amazing how often the trademark industry forgets that the purpose of trademarks is to protect the consumer's right and ability to identify goods and services and to distinguish such goods and services from one another.. The trademark industry forgets that trademarks are intended to benefit the customer, not the seller, and that any benefit to the seller is merely incidental.) more»

Techies Wanna Do Policy

I'm sure we have all heard a techie or standards body tell legislatures, courts, and business groups to keep their mits off of the internet; that such groups are "clueless" and that they will damage some noumenon or other indistinct, but critical, principle of the internet. Consider, for example, the condemnation of competing DNS roots by ICANN and the IAB. What makes today so interesting is that two well respected techies have stepped forth and made strong social/economic/business policy statements. more»

Where Did the .Root Top-Level Domain Come From?

It was pointed out to me the other day that the ICANN/NTIA/Verisign root zone file contains a previously undiscussed top level domain. The contents of this TLD suggest that it was created by Verisign, the company that actually constructs the root zone file used by the dominant set of root servers. (The same zone file is also used by at least one of the competing root systems.) That TLD is .root. It's existence is as real as any other TLD such as .com or .org... more»

Using Whois to Enforce Law?

Before starting I'd like to remind you that there are two distinct Whois systems -- the one for IP address delegations and one for DNS registrations. I believe that the former is a useful system in which there are clear utility values that outweigh the privacy costs, and in which the person whose privacy is exposed has made a knowing choice. I do not believe that these arguments apply to the latter, the DNS, form of Whois. more»

Security and Fort N.O.C.'s

In an article by MSNBC called "Fort N.O.C.'s" [Network Operating Center] Brock N. Meeks reports: "The unassuming building that houses the "A" root sits in a cluster of three others; the architecture looks as if it were lifted directly from a free clip art library. No signs or markers give a hint that the Internet's most precious computer is inside humming happily away in a hermetically sealed room. This building complex could be any of a 100,000 mini office parks littering middle class America." ...It is hardly the "most precious computer"!!!  more»

Will ICANN Reveal Its True Self To WSIS?

The U.N. World Information Summit (WSIS) meets next Wednesday in Geneva. It is expected that questions will be raised whether the some or all of the functions performed by ICANN would be better vested in an organization such as the ITU...ICANN has not hesitated to ring the bell of its stewardship of these functions before governments and businesses. In fact, I seem to remember court filings in which ICANN tried to excuse itself by hinting to the court that the internet would wobble off of its axis should the court interfere with ICANN and its unfettered role as overseer. Over the last few days, on the IETF mailing list, ICANN's Chairman has tried to tell a different story, a story in which ICANN is merely a "coordinator" with no real power to do much of anything with regard to IP address allocation or operation of the DNS root servers. more»

An Unsanctioned Whois Database

Mark Jeftovic of easyDNS Technologies Inc. has posted an item on ICANN's "GNSO" registrars' mailing list titled "unsanctioned Whois concepts". In that item he suggests that the control and actual publication of contact information about a domain be put into the zone file itself, a file maintained by the registrant (purchasor) of the domain name. more»

Is the Internet Dying?

There are indications that the Internet, at least the Internet as we know it today, is dying. I am always amazed, and appalled, when I fire up a packet monitor and watch the continuous flow of useless junk that arrives at my demarcation routers' interfaces. That background traffic has increased to the point where it makes noticeable lines on my MRTG graphs. And I have little reason for optimism that this increase will cease. Quite the contrary, I find more reason to be pessimistic and believe that this background noise will become a Niagara-like roar that drowns the usability of the Internet. And the net has very long memory... more»

On the Upcoming Hearings on ICANN by the US Senate

I was a witness at the two prior hearing, one in 2001 and another in 2002 - it's quite an experience.

My submission to this year's hearing is online at http://www.cavebear.com/rw/senate-july-31-2003.htm

What's going to be said by the witnesses? I don't know. But I have some guesses... more»

Is WLS the Right Mechanism to Protect Consumers?

The claim that the *only* way that reliable wait listing can be done by *the* registry is not true. The registrars could, as a technical matter, if they chose to do so, "wrap" the registry with a new entity that mediates all acquisitions and releases. Whether this accords with ICANN's hyper intricate contractual scheme or with laws against restraint of trade, I don't know.

Personally I consider WLS to be contrary to the idea that a contract contains an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing - it seems to me that WLS violates that implied covenant - It is as if my doctor is selling contracts on parts of my body should I die while under his care. more»

ICANN Montreal: Real-Time Thoughts During the WHOIS Meeting - 2nd Session

John LoGalbo - a "law enforcement" type - is complaining how long it takes him to issue a subpoena. My thought is this: Why should our privacy suffer because his organization can't get its procedural act together?

I am incensed - he is simply stating a conclusion that his targets are "criminals" and that, to go after them, he wants to throw away all legal processes and procedures - so much for the fourth, fifth, sixth, and fourteenth amendments. more»

ICANN Montreal: Real-Time Thoughts During the WHOIS Meeting - 1st Session

I'm going to try something new here. I'm sitting here at the ICANN meeting on whois and I'll try to jot down some of my thoughts as they occur to me in reaction to what is being said:

- What is the "purpose" of whois? When a person acquires a domain name he/she has a decision to make: whether he/she will give the vendor/registrar his/her personal information? (If not, the person might have to forego getting the name, but that's his/her choice.) It seems that that is the context in which we need to evaluate the "purpose" of whois. In other words, the person relinquishes the information for the purpose of acquiring a domain name and not the broad panopoly of uses that have grown around whois. more»

Brownian Motion And ICANN's Latest Status Report To The United States

Brownian motion is the ceaseless random movement of particles suspended in a warm fluid. The particles move because they are buffeted by random collisions with molecules and atoms speeding this way and that under the impetus of heat. The greater the heat, the greater the motion. But no matter how much motion and how much heat, Brownian motion brings no progress.

Today I learned from Bret Fausett's ICANN Blog that ICANN has just published its Sixth Status Report Under ICANN/US Government Memorandum of Understanding, dated March 31, 2003. This report is subtitled "Report by ICANN to United States Department of Commerce Re: Progress Toward Objectives of Memorandum of Understanding" (emphasis added.) more»

Time For ICANN/IANA To Squarely Face The Question Of Privacy

Various people whose judgment I value [M. Mueller, B. Fausett] have suggested that ICANN/IANA may finally get to the issue of privacy.

The ICANN Board is establishing a "President's Standing Committee on Privacy" (why the committee is possessed by ICANN's "president" and not the Board is something we can deal with at another time and another place.)

Privacy is a hard question. It is a matter that pervades all aspects of information handling. It would be entirely inappropriate, and ultimately futile, to try to deal with privacy as an after-the-fact adjustment to the existing DNS Whois system. It is necessary to examine the most fundamental questions -- such as what reasons, if any, justify there being a Whois database at all. more»