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Thinking Outside The ICANN Box: Creating A Prototype Based On Internet Experience - Part II

The proposal "The Internet an International Public Treasure” ("Public Treasure") offers a means of creating a prototype for an international collaborative management structure for the Internet (see Part I of this article).

The proposal also documents some of the background work that is needed for creating this management structure. Before developing either the ARPANET, or the Internet, there were designs and plans that set a basis for the research work. The development of an international collaborative management structure for the Internet's infrastructure requires similar leadership processes.

The prototype proposed in the "Public Treasure" proposal provides a format for such leadership processes. The Internet's infrastructure needs protection and administration. This infrastructure includes the Domain Name System (DNS), the means of IP number allocations, and the creation and maintenance of the Internet protocols, etc. The "Public Treasure" proposal includes the preparatory work to understand these systems so that they can be protected and administered by a competent management structure.

The collaborative group of researchers who will be working to develop a prototype for this management structure are to:

"1) identify and describe the essential functions of the DNS system that need to be maintained. (The RFC's or other documents that will help in this need to be gathered and references to them made available to those interested.)"

The creation of ICANN has been misleading in a number of ways. One of those ways is that the infrastructure of the Internet includes not only the Domain Name System (DNS), but also the IP numbers and the protocols. The allocation of the IP numbers and the creation and support for the protocols also need to be understood to be able to provide for their continued maintenance and development.

Another of the needs to create an appropriate management structure is to understand the diversity of the Internet community and how the infrastructure of the Internet is important for this diversity.

The "Public Treasure" proposal asks the prototype research group:

"2) To examine how the Internet and then how the DNS system and root server system are serving the communication needs of the diverse communities and users of the Internet, which include among others the scientific community, the education community, the librarians, the technical community, governments (national as well as local), the university community, the art and cultural communities, nonprofit organizations, the medical community, the business community, and most importantly the users whoever they be, of the Internet."

This would include considering how the IP allocation system and the protocol process are also serving the diversity of Internet users.

Some of the other preparation needed for determining the appropriate management structure and its functions would include:

"a) an accurate history of how the Internet developed and how the Domain Name System developed and why."

Also needed is an accurate history of the development of the IP number allocation process and the protocol creation and maintenance process.

Historically, the vision for the Internet provided the inspiration for the collaborative Internet research. An understanding of that vision continues to be needed. The researchers should involve users online in:

"b) a discussion of the vision for the future of the Internet....This should be based on input gathered from the users of the Internet, and from research about the history and development of the Internet."

This aspect of the "Public Treasure" proposal makes it possible to evaluate how far the Internet has come in fulfilling the vision that inspires its develpment and what further work is needed.

Another part of the prototype research process, is a need to investigate what the problems are that have developed with the infrastructure of the Internet and its administration. By describing the problems of the DNS system, for example, it will be possible to understand what research is needed to solve these problems. Similar efforts are needed to understand the IP allocation system and the protocol creation and maintenance process.

The "Public Treasure" proposal asks for:

"c) a description of the role the Domain Name System plays in the administration and control of the Internet, how it is functioning, what problems have developed with it."

A similar description is needed for the IP allocation process and the protocol creation and maintenance process.

These descriptions are the basis to create:

"d) a proposal for their further administration, describing how the proposal will provide for the continuation of the functions and control hitherto provided by U.S. government agencies like NSF and DARPA. Also, problems for the further administrations should be clearly identified and proposals made for how to begin an open process for examining the problems and solving them."

The responsibility for the protection previously provided by the US government for these functions needs to be assumed by a broader community. By examining how the US government was able to provide the needed protection, and what the problems were that made such protection difficult, there will be a way to understand what is needed for an internationally managed protection system.

Some of this background would include:

"e) a description of the problems and pressures that...can be a danger for the DNS administration. Also recommendations are needed on how to protect the DNS administration from succumbing to those pressures. (For example, from pressures that are political or commercial.) In the early days of Internet development in the U.S. there was an acceptable use policy (AUP) that protected the Internet and the scientific and technical community from the pressures from political and commercial entities. Also in the U.S., government funding of a sizeable number of people who were the computer science community also protected those people from commercial and political pressures."

The researchers working collaboratively to determine what kind of management structure is needed will be expected to distribute the results of their research broadly and widely. This would include:

"f) a way for the proposal to be distributed widely online, and the public not online should also have a way to have access to it. It should be made available to people around the world who are part of or interested in the future development of the Internet. Perhaps help with such distribution can come from international organizations like the ITU, from the Internet Society, the IETF, etc."

The work of these researchers should include a section that looks at their experience and considers what has been learned by the work of this prototype group of researchers. This includes their:

"g) comment on what has been learned from the process of doing collaborative work to create the proposal. It should identify as much as possible the problems that developed in their collaborative efforts. Identifying the problems will help clarify what work has to be done to solve them."

A key aspect of the "Public Treasure" proposal was the recognition that:

"h) It will be necessary to agree to some way to keep this group of researchers free from commercial and political pressures — government funding of the researchers is one possible way and maybe they can be working under an agreed upon Acceptable Use Policy for their work and funding. (in the past an Acceptable use policy has made such collaborative work among researchers from different nations possible.)"

The "Public Treasure" proposal is "an effort to figure out what is a real way to solve the problem that is the essential problem in the future administration of the Internet. If the principles and prototype can be found to solve this problem, they will help to solve other problems of Internet administration and functioning as well."

By Ronda Hauben, Author & Researcher
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