The CaveBear

Old CaveBear Blog

This is the old CaveBear Blog that ran from 2003 through 2014.

There has been no attempt to preserve the old URL's - that would have been too much work.  And that's what search engines are for?

These are organized in chronological order, oldest at the top, newest at the bottom.

New items are going into the new CaveBear blog.

  1. Welcome to the new CaveBear Blog March 19 2003 Everybody and his brother has a blog. I figured that I ought to have one too. So, here it is - the CaveBear Blog! What I intend to do here is simply jot down thoughts about internet governance - not merely ICANN, but rather the whole issue of power and control as nation states erode and pieces of their sovreignty flow into other containers. I'll also be hitting other topics - like voice-over-IP and such. Those will come along as I get more familiar with this stuff. Anyway, here we go....... Welcome to the new CaveBear Blog
  2. Thoughts on ICANN's long overdue CRADA report March 20 2003 ICANN/IANA has issued its long overdue report to NTIA entitled Public Summary of Reports Provided Under Cooperative Research and Development Agreement CN-1634 Between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the United States Department of Commerce.  This report may be found at I have asked to see the full reports, but so far ICANN's management has not been forthcoming.  So I have no information regarding the differences between the public and private versions of the report.  I hope that the only difference is the address of the location that ICANN has selected for its god-like master server. UPDATE: (June 23, 2003) - ICANN's management agreed to let me inspect the full report and has placed no impediments in my path. However due to limits on my own time I have not had the opportunity to actually make that inspection. However, I have reasonable confidence that the only... Thoughts on ICANN's long overdue CRADA report
  3. Whois, Privacy, and the GNSO Recommendations on Whois Accuracy and Bulk Access March 25 2003 I see that the whois report is coming up for a vote. Unless things change substantially, I am likely to find myself voting to reject this report. The issue of personal privacy is intrinsic to the issues surrounding "whois".  That was quite clear even in the days of the IFWP meetings. Yet this report seems to be have been written in spite of privacy concerns.  (See, for example the report by EPIC - Below is a copy of what I sent to group several months ago (with a couple of spelling errors corrected.)  I consider my comments as valid now as they were then. Absent a justification why "whois" data should be made public at all, I consider the issue of accuracy to be moot. And I find the principle of adopting what amounts to a partial report to represent a dangerous indication that privacy in whois will never... Whois, Privacy, and the GNSO Recommendations on Whois Accuracy and Bulk Access
  4. Where am I? March 25 2003 Folks might notice that I'm not in Rio at the ICANN meeting. Instead I'm in Colorado at the IFIP/IEEE International Symposium on Integrated Network Management. When I committed to give a keynote talk I had expected that as of this date I would no longer be on the ICANN board. The title of my keynote is "From Barnstorming to Boeing - Transforming the Internet Into a Lifeline Utility" The presentation (MS Powerpoint, 55kbytes) and my speaker's notes (Adobe Acrobat, 155kbytes) are online. In many senses, what is heppening here in Colorado will have more impact on the technology and usability of the net than anything that may occur in Brazil at this ICANN meeting - As is becoming increasingly apparent, ICANN has abrogated most meaningful technical roles and serves primarly as a body "regulating" DNS registration services for the benefit of certain special interests (euphemistically known in ICANN-ese as "stakeholders".)... Where am I?
  5. ICANN and privacy March 26 2003 I can't described how badly ICANN has fumbled the issue of privacy of the whois databases. ICANN has been in existence for more than four years, and during that entire time, ICANN has again and again has not merely evaded the issue of privacy but has actively taken measures to eliminate privacy. Does anyone in ICANN have children or grandchildren, nieces or nephews who use the Internet?  Would they be willing to publish the names, addresses, e-mails, and phone numbers of those children on a public registry open 24x7 to all the predators and pornographers of the world? Yet that is exactly what ICANN has done - ICANN has created Megan's Law in reverse - instead of publishing the names of the predators to warn the potential victims, ICANN's policies publish the names of the potential victims to be perused by would-be predators and pornographers. And why is ICANN pursuing... ICANN and privacy
  6. Comments on the Joe Sims Resolution at the ICANN meeting in Rio March 27 2003 It is my business judgment that ICANN may have grounds for significant legal claims against Joe Sims. ICANN's board is poised to have a meaningful change of membership.  That new board may well chose to pursue those claims. It is in the interest of ICANN that the right of a future board to raise these claims be protected and preserved.  That right should not discarded or weakened through a thoughtless act of the existing board, particularly when several of the members the existing board are rumored to have obtained their seats through a series of back-room choices and deals involving Joe Sims. The Joe Sims resolution could be construed as nothing more than a kissy-faced and legally empty exercise. Or the Joe Sims resolution could be considered as something more.  The resolution could be construed as an approval and acceptance by ICANN of what Sims has done, and as a... Comments on the Joe Sims Resolution at the ICANN meeting in Rio
  7. ICANN gives an iPod March 27 2003 I don't know if I am alone in this, but it strikes me as ironic that ICANN gave its outgoing president an Apple iPod as a going away gift. The iPod represents the epitome and symbol of the fear of the mass-market music companies that "their" copyrighted materials are being improperly, even unlawfully, copied and traded. And ICANN, if nothing else, represents an epitome and symbol of the efforts of the intellectual property industries to control the Internet so that the iPods owners of the world will be forced to refuel those iPods only from intellectual-property industry approved sources. Given Stuart Lynn's penchant for issuing dogmatic statements restricting technology and the use of the internet, I would have thought that a more appropriate gift would have been a gilt edged copy of De impressione liborum[*], a decree of the Lateran Council in 1515 that required that those who wish to... ICANN gives an iPod
  8. Response to Ross Rader March 29 2003 Ross Rader comments in his blog at that he considers my concerns about personal privacy to be "wrongheaded, hysterical and plain out and out 'not likely to happen'. " Hopefully Ross is right. However, ICANN, with the backing of the US Department of Commerce is forcing everyone who wants to obtain a domain on the net to publish his/her name, address, and other information into an online database, open 24x7 to any and all anonomous users. Spammers and pornographers dredge through whois continuously despite hand waving by ICANN and registries and registrars that such conduct is a no-no. But the risk is much worse than mere spammers and pornographers. I personally know women who have been stalked when their addresses became known via the whois database. The fact that there have been only a few documented circumstances to date speaks more to the low technical competence of stalkers and... Response to Ross Rader
  9. Thoughts on whois and privacy April 02 2003 It is time for ICANN/IANA to squarely face the question of privacy in the DNS whois database. 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. This note contains thoughts on how we might try to deal with... Thoughts on whois and privacy
  10. Internet Security versus Recoverability - Which Is More Important? April 03 2003 Last week at the the IFIP/IEEE International Symposium on Integrated Network Management I gave a keynote talk on how we might improve the reliability and availability of the net - (See my Blog entry of March 25, 2003.)  One of the points that I made was that as the net moves towards being a utility, there must be a significant improvement in the the availability of usable net services and a similar reduction in the time to repair such failures that do occur. Unfortunately I have had experiences learning what happens when networks crumble whether by human or natural causes.  The job of putting things back together is chaotic and ad hoc.  Security measures are, at best, a troublesome nuisance and, at worst, an obstacle preventing recovery. A couple of days after my presentation, during a discussion on Secure BGP by Steve Kent, it occurred to me that I don't... Internet Security versus Recoverability - Which Is More Important?
  11. Why Lotteries Are Better Than Auctions When Distributing New TLD Slots April 04 2003 This note is in response to sTLD Beauty Contests: An Analysis and Critique of the Proposed Criteria to Be Used in the Selection of New Sponsored TLDs by Karl M. Manheim & Lawrence B. Solum.  Other materials related to the issue of deploying new TLDs may be found on the authors' web page at When I ran in the only open election ever held for an ICANN board seat my published platform set forth my preferred approach to the deployment of new TLDs. In that platform I proposed that the the top level domain space be expanded not through the deployment of "names" but rather through the deployment of "slots".  The difference is subtle.  When I say deployment by "names" I mean that the character string that will be the actual domain name label for that new TLD is made part of the selection process.  When I say deployment... Why Lotteries Are Better Than Auctions When Distributing New TLD Slots
  12. Suggestion for anyone thinking of becoming an ICANN Director April 11 2003 I am concerned by certain aspects of the ICANN "Nominating" committee's recent Formal Call for Recommendations and Statements of Interest - not for what is said, but rather, for what is not said. Let me begin begin and end this blog entry with a single suggestion: Any person who is considering becoming a Director of ICANN (or any other corporate entity) ought to consult with his or her own personal legal counsel. (Although I am a licensed California attorney, the above is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice; you should consult with your own personal legal counsel on these matters.)... Suggestion for anyone thinking of becoming an ICANN Director
  13. Fun and Hacking in Las Vegas... April 11 2003 If anyone is planning on coming to the Networld+Interop show in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks, stop by the iLabs area on the show floor - I'll be there helping out with various things, most particularly the IP Storage Initiative. (Think "Storage Area Networks", SANs.) (If you are not familiar with iLabs - its a place where we try to push networking technology to its limits, and often beyond.  It's a place where still lives the old spirit of hooking up diverse equipment and pounding on it until it interoperates ... or until we collapse in exhaustion.) I've spent the last couple of days setting up a test rig to subject ISCSI products to various kinds of network conditions.  I'll be using my new tool, Maxwell, the Network Impairment System@reg, to explore the range of network conditions in which ISCSI works well and those in which it does... Fun and Hacking in Las Vegas...
  14. Silent Spring & Unsafe At Any Speed versus today's "intellectual property" warriors April 14 2003 I just read about the cease and desist order sent to folks at the InterzOne 2 gathering to prevent a presentation on the weakness of a credit card system. The thought occurred to me - had today's climate of intellectual property uber alles been around during the 1960's would Rachel Carson have been able to publish Silent Spring?  Would Ralph Nader have been able to publish Unsafe At Any Speed? Many people are alive today because of those books.  The world is a better place because of those books. It seems to me that as a society we are paying a terrible price simply to placate the whining of an industry that is increasingly failing to live up to its obligation to promote the progress of science and useful arts.... Silent Spring & Unsafe At Any Speed versus today's "intellectual property" warriors
  15. Brownian Motion and ICANN's Latest Status Report to the United States April 15 2003 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.) Let's take a look at that those claims of "progress":... Brownian Motion and ICANN's Latest Status Report to the United States
  16. It's 2am, Do You Know Where Your Forum Is? April 23 2003 On April 9 ICANN's so-called "At Large Advisory Committee" (ALAC) put out a paper entitled "Proposed Criteria and Accreditation Process for At-Large Structures, and Proposed Guidelines for Regional At-Large Organizations' (RALOs) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ICANN". That paper called for comments to be submitted to a "forum". As of this date (April 23), which happens to be the closing date for comments, that "forum" has not been made visible to the public. The word "forum" invokes an image of a place where people gather and exchange ideas.  However the ALAC's failure to make the comments visible denies people the ability to exchange ideas and to build new ideas and compromises based on that exchange. ICANN's history has rarely, if ever, allowed there to be a real marketplace of ideas - ICANN generally operates by allowing people to throw comments over a wall to silently meet their fate at the... It's 2am, Do You Know Where Your Forum Is?
  17. Is the ALAC trying out material for a new Three Stooges movie? April 24 2003 In my previous entry (It's 2am, Do You Know Where Your Forum Is?) I pointed out that ICANN's ALAC doesn't seem to have followed through on its promise of timely publication of the comments it has received. Because of the ALAC's lack, I published my own comments on the GA mailing list - see I have heard that my comment, which was properly sent to the ALAC (and, as indicated in my mail server logs, was accepted by their computers) has been lost. What kind of crazy game is this? Not only does the ALAC fail to live up to its promise of public publication, but it can't even find materials that were sent to it! I took a look at the archives of the discussion among the ALAC members. It appears that the ALAC's carnival of chaos goes even deeper. There is round after round of e-mails citing... Is the ALAC trying out material for a new Three Stooges movie?
  18. H. G. Wells, Things To Come, ICANN, and Voltaire April 24 2003 The 1930's were a time of faith in technology.   The world was in dire economic straits.  And from the US to the USSR technology seemed to hold the answer.  One has only to look at the science fiction stories and comics from that period to see the brave new worlds that people thought could come from technology.  (Even the darkest stories - Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times - didn't really question the benefits of technology as much as they questioned the unequal distribution of its benefits and its destructive effects on workers.) In 1933 H.G. Wells wrote a story about how the world might be if the existing power structures - politicians and patricians - were to be replaced by an oligarchy or meritocracy of technologists.  That story eventually became the 1936 film Things To Come [link to poster] [link to review]. This is a film worth seeing. ... H. G. Wells, Things To Come, ICANN, and Voltaire
  19. It's National Damn Spam week! April 28 2003 It's National Damn Spam week.  Everybody seems to be announcing some sort of way to stop the scourge of unsolicited commercial e-mail. My own proposal is quite straightforward - Any spammer advertising a body enhancement must first cut off that same part from his/her own body.... It's National Damn Spam week!
  20. The death of the "Global Uniform Name Space" April 30 2003 Remember the "Global Uniform Name Space" that ICANN's ex-president made such a noise about in his unilateral, never approved ICANN policy document, ICP-3? I've always considered that policy to be brain-dead and detached from reality.  (See "Thoughts on Internet Naming Systems -" I'm here at Networld+Interop and I noticed that there are products on the show floor that happily rewrite domain names and URL's - sort of like NAT but at the DNS and URL layer. If these products fly - and some of 'em do look useful - then DNS names and URL's will be context sensitive just like IP addresses are context sensitive when used in the presence of NATs.  And I expect that context sensitive DNS/URL names will harm the connectivity of the internet no more than do context sensitive IP addresses - i.e. not much.  (Web servers and content management systems have been playing with... The death of the "Global Uniform Name Space"
  21. No wonder Network Solutions' market share is dropping May 01 2003 I am amazed at how badly Network Solutions treats its customers.  It is no wonder that its market share keeps falling. For example, yesterday I received a request from Network Solutions to confirm my contact information - otherwise they would cancel my domain name.  The trouble is they did not bother to tell me which of my many registrations they are asking about. I've gone through several e-mail exchanges, several password resets, a phone call - mostly trying to get bits of information that NSI doesn't bother to tell. NSI's web based system is a model of how not to do it.  For example, there is no "confirm" button on their web pages.  So what am I supposed to do if my contact information is already correct?  And when they reset a password and send you a new one they don't bother to say what accounts were reset.  Toss in... No wonder Network Solutions' market share is dropping
  22. A small review - Networld+Interop 2003 May 05 2003 This is a small review of the Networld+Interop show held in Las Vegas April 29 through May 1, 2003. I've been attending Interop events ever since it was the TCP/IP Interoperability Conference in 1987.  I've helped design and construct most of the networks used in those shows over the years.  Over the last few years I've moved to the iLabs, where we continue the tradition of assembling and operating impossibly complicated multi-vendor networks using the latest (and sometimes yet unreleased) technologies.... A small review - Networld+Interop 2003
  23. In response to the May 1 letter to ICANN (or rather to ICANN's general counsel) from the Intellectual Property Interests Constituency May 17 2003 On May 1 ICANN's Intellectual Property Interests Constituency sent a letter to ICANN's general counsel. The letter is essentially a request, or rather a demand, for ICANN to further lubricate the gross invasion of personal privacy that is euphemistically called the "whois database". The letter claims that such measures benefit "everyday users" by enhancing "the operational stability, reliability, and security of the Internet" through the "prosecution of cybersquatters and copyright pirates". Perhaps "everyday" internet users are benefited by the protection of trademarks and copyrights.  Then again, "everyday" internet users are also benefited numerous other kinds of protections. It strikes me that if there is merit in having ICANN enunciate rules to protect everyday internet users from trademark and copyright abuse, then there is as at least as much merit in having ICANN enunciate rules to suppress dangerous products, promote high efficiency/low pollution vehicles, and encourage corporations to live up to... In response to the May 1 letter to ICANN (or rather to ICANN's general counsel) from the Intellectual Property Interests Constituency
  24. How I came to enjoy opera May 17 2003 This note has nothing to do with ICANN, internet governance, technology, or railroads.  So if that's what you want you'll need to wait for the next turn of the wheel.  And if you are offended by comments that are perhaps less than politically correct you ought to tune out now. This afternoon I had reason to drive over the Santa Cruz mountains - it was a most pleasant day, so I cranked down the windows and the roof and decided that it was time for some tunes.  I chanced across a CD (actually three CD's) of Norma by Bellini.  I was reminded of how I came to enjoy opera.  Here's the story; fade to a flashback...... How I came to enjoy opera
  25. The .travel lobby is out in force May 23 2003 I have received several letters from people in the travel industry indicating their support for .travel On the great scale of things that benefit the public, I would rank the travel industry rather far below farmers, public safety workers, teachers, performing artists, and health care professionals. It seems to me that if we are going to allocate only a very few specialized new Top Level Domains then those groups have a rather stronger claim than does the travel industry. In addition, has everyone forgotten that an arm of the travel industry already won one of the precious few new TLDs that ICANN has allocated - .aero? And can anyone articulate any specific facts about that TLD that have resulted in a cognizable benefit to the community of internet users? I personally feel that ICANN ought to quickly and totally repudiate the Lynn doctrine and adopt something along the lines of... The .travel lobby is out in force
  26. On the departure of Louis Touton from ICANN May 23 2003 This is a follow-up to my comments in ICANNwatch regarding the departure of Louis Touton from ICANN. As I wrote there, I have come to have a great deal of respect for Louis. Many have complained that Louis created too much internet policy.  It is indeed true that much of what we see as the concrete result of ICANN has come from Louis' pen.  However, Louis stepped into a policy vacuum ... and he filled it. If there is fault in this, it is the fault of the ICANN Board of Directors and of ICANN's past presidents who have failed to direct and channel the creative energy of Louis Touton.  This kind of institutional structural failure is likely to continue beyond Louis' departure; it is a structural failure that is likely to continue crippling ICANN.... On the departure of Louis Touton from ICANN
  27. Locus ab auctoritate est infirmissimus  ("The argument from authority is the weakest.") - Thomas Aquinas May 26 2003 Perhaps you noticed the quote in the header in my blog - Locus ab auctoritate est infirmissimus  ("The argument from authority is the weakest.") by Thomas Aquinas. There is a bit of fun and irony, not to mention more than a bit of circular logic, to use the authority of a Saint of the Catholic Church to confront a claim that one should concede a point on nothing more than a bald assertion of authority. It seems to me that we in the United States have fallen under the spell of asserted authority. Why, for example, should we believe that ICANN has any power over the internet whatsoever?  Where did ICANN get its power?  From the US Department of Commerce?  Where did they get that power?  Because they say they have it?  Where's the proof? Nearly three years ago Professor A. Michael Froomkin asked for proof.  His questions have never... Locus ab auctoritate est infirmissimus  ("The argument from authority is the weakest.") - Thomas Aquinas
  28. The .travel lobby lumbers on May 29 2003 A week ago I wrote about the intense lobbying by advocates of .travel. That lobbying has continued. Every e-mail letter follows the same pattern, making the same assertions. It appears that a standard outline was created with each writter simply putting his or her own words into the pre-agreed upon structure. Other similarities are that each letter is sent by a clerical person on behalf of a principal and each e-mail is packed with large attachments. One of these e-mails contained over 12 megabytes of attachments. This kind of mindless lobbying, based on really nothing more than an assertion of self-importance, and packaged in obese e-mails that display not merely a lack of technical understanding but also a disdain for the resources of others on the net, does not sway me in favor of .travel. Indeed, I am swayed to the contrary.... The .travel lobby lumbers on
  29. What has ICANN's Appointments, oops, Nominating Committee been up to? June 04 2003 ICANN's so-call "Nominating committee" (despite its name, it is really an "appointing" committee) is supposed to come out with its list of appointees in early June. It is now early June. One might wonder what process are being used by the members of the committee? Are they voting at all? Are there separate votes for each person under consideration using majority-takes-all counting? Or are there lists of names and voting using cumulative or instant runoff (single transferable vote) methods of counting? These are not trivial differences. Single name voting with majority counting rules are a classic form of ensuring that the majority will win on every decision. On the other hand, votes for multiple seats using cumulative and instant runoff methods are widely used methods to ensure that the minority interests have at least a chance of getting a few of their people chosen. One wonders why even the method... What has ICANN's Appointments, oops, Nominating Committee been up to?
  30. 2nd Whois Phonecall June 07 2003 I hear that there was a 2nd conference call on whois issues. I would have participated. However, nobody bothered to let me know that it was scheduled or what the call-in information was. From what I have been able to ascertain several of the people who actively participated in the first phone call (and primarly those who expressed concerns about privacy) were not notified. There appears to be a bit of unnatural selection going on - perhaps to tailor the result and create yet another one of ICANN's infamous artificial "consensus" policies. Looking through the summary it appears that the intellectual property folks still don't give a damn about privacy - they just want more and better ore to data mine (although they give it a better name - tiered access, in which they, of course, occupy the most privileged tier.) The registrars seem concerned that their costs of providing... 2nd Whois Phonecall
  31. So Oracle wants to buy PeopleSoft - I hope they do their homework June 07 2003 I saw in the news that Oracle wants to buy PeopleSoft.  I hope they do their homework, particularly about PeopleSoft's CEO, Craig Conway. I encountered PeopleSoft's CEO when he was brought into a software/networking company in Santa Cruz, TGV, to take them public (and then later to sell the company to Cisco.) I do hope the people at Oracle look at the "job" that Conway did on TGV and on my own company, Empirical Tools and Technologies that had TGV as a principal investor.  The California Department of Corporations has a rather complete record of how TGV, under the direction of Conway, destroyed a running corporation with award winning products. I do hope the people at Oracle ask Cisco about Cisco's acquisition of TGV, an acquisition that has been frequently described as "failed", and ask why Cisco chose not to employ Conway after the acquisition. As for myself, I was... So Oracle wants to buy PeopleSoft - I hope they do their homework
  32. Privacy and Whois (A continuing blog-dialog with Ross Rader) June 07 2003 Privacy is a complex topic.  The decision whether information is to be private or not is the result of a balance of equities.  As in any such balancing act the weights assigned to the various equities frequently dictates the outcome.  And loss of privacy is a ratcheting event - once privacy is breached, it remains breached. During the 1970s and 1980s privacy issues were distilled into collections of principles.  These principles represent broad consensus of opinion among many actors, private and commercial, governmental and institutional.  Many of these principles underlie imperative laws in many nations around the world and ought not be thoughtlessly disregarded. When a person discloses personal information a kind of rough social bargain is struck - the person makes a choice, perhaps unknowingly, to disclose or not to disclose based on that person's evaluation of the benefits to be obtained versus the costs and burdens to be... Privacy and Whois (A continuing blog-dialog with Ross Rader)
  33. Real-time thoughts during the WHOIS session June 24 2003 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. - "tiered" access - do we give rights to classes of persons or to classes of situations? It seems to me that it... Real-time thoughts during the WHOIS session
  34. Real-time thoughts during ICANN's second whois session:
    First Panel
    June 25 2003 I'm picking this up about 20 minutes in - John LoGalbo - A "law enforcement" type - is complaining how long it takes him to issue a suboena. 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 want to throw away all legal processes and procedures - so much for the fourth, fifth, sixth, and fourteenth amendments. Law enforcement procedures are there for a reason and should not be abandoned on the basis of mere expedency and convenience, particularly on nothing more than an accusation that has never been reviewed by a magistrate or other disinterested party. I am appalled at the way that the word "legitimate" is bandied around without even a hint of recognition that it is... Real-time thoughts during ICANN's second whois session:
    First Panel
  35. Real-time thoughts during ICANN's second whois session:
    Second Panel
    June 25 2003 Today is George Orwell's 100'th birthday. Orwell, were he here at these ICANN sessions on whois, would probably perceive them as strong evidence that Big Brother is closer today than in 1984. Metalitz/IP - He is beginning with an incorrect statement about the "purpose" of whois. It was not established to track down people doing bad things - back when whois started it was much like the roster of a club. So his statement that whois is being used by IP folks in the way whois was originally "intended" is not supportable. FTC - Mentioned accuracy. My thought is that we need to be more accurate about the meaning of "accuracy". There are elements such as precision - for example whether a full telephone number is provided versus only the country-code/city code part of the phone number. And there is a distinction between information that is simply absent versus information... Real-time thoughts during ICANN's second whois session:
    Second Panel
  36. Why Are We Willing To Bet Democracy To Gain A Few Bucks? July 20 2003 Democracy survives only because the voters have faith that their votes are accurately counted.  If that faith is lost, voters will conclude that the system is fixed and will abandon the system. The United States had a near miss in 2000 in Florida.  That near miss could have turned into a disaster had there not been physical evidence of the votes cast - the infamous chads.  That should have served as a warning.  But instead of learning the lesson that an independent, auditable record of votes cast is a critical and necessary part of an election system, our agencies and legislatures have leapt to the unsupportable conclusion that invisible electrons are a better way to count votes than humanly readable paper. I ran in, and won, one of the first, if not the first, worldwide electronic election - to represent North America on the board of directors of the Internet... Why Are We Willing To Bet Democracy To Gain A Few Bucks?
  37. How did they do that? July 26 2003 In my previous entry "Why Are We Willing To Bet Democracy To Gain A Few Bucks?" (July 20, 2003) I raised concerns about electronic voting systems that lack independent audit trails. Over the last week a report came out of Johns Hopkins demonstrating several vulnerabilities of the Diebold implementation of one such system. That system, like so many others, lacks an independent audit trail and places its entire trust on the software and on the polling place officials. I noticed today an item in the Washington Post - "Voting Machine Study Divides Md. Officials, Experts" In that article there is the following paragraph: Margaret A. Jurgensen, director of elections in Montgomery County, said that voters loved the machines. "The general election went off perfectly," she said. My question is simple - How in the world, in the absence of an independent audit trail, does Ms. Jurgensen know that "The general..." How did they do that?
  38. On the upcoming hearings on ICANN by the US Senate July 31 2003 The Communications subcommittee of the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is holding a hearing on ICANN today, July 31, 2003. at 2:30pm EDT. You can listen in via (scan down for the appropriate item for Room SR-253).  I'm not sure where the written materials will be posted - I'll post the URL when I find out. 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 What's going to be said by the witnesses?  I don't know.  But I have some guesses: ICANN will once again try to make us believe that it is responsive to the public. NTIA will once again threaten to pull the contractual plug on ICANN. CDT will present its usual - an extremely competent and extremely reasonable position, wrapped in... On the upcoming hearings on ICANN by the US Senate
  39. Listening to the hearings on ICANN - part I, waiting for the hearing to begin July 31 2003 Well I'm waiting for the hearing to begin. I am reading Nancy Victory's prepared statement. It's kissy rather than critical of ICANN. She accepts ICANN's "reform" without a hint of concern about the distance ICANN has imposed between itself and the public, she has no comment on has lack of progress on security by ICANN, she accepts that awful CRADA report, and she has only the most mild words about TLD allocation. I can hear Nancy Victory and Paul Twomey in the background chatter as I wait for the hearing to begin. I'm now reading Paul Twomey's statement - there is an odd simularity between his list of ICANN accomplishments and those listed in Nancy Victory's statement. I sense that the DOC may simply be reciting what ICANN is feeding to it. I see that Paul is claiming the awful CRADA report as if it were the output of ICANN... Listening to the hearings on ICANN - part I, waiting for the hearing to begin
  40. Listening to the hearings - Part II, Nancy Victory's statement July 31 2003 Nancy Victory is speaking now... She is mentioning ICANN's charge to its president made in Montreal in June as if it were likely to solve the TLD logjam. Being one who was there, I can attest that the underlying message from the Board to ICANN's president was more of a desire to move forward only on the Stuart Lynn concept of a very few "sponsored" TLDs, each undergoing microscopic scrutiny of their business plans, rather than a wholescale revision of the TLD allocation mechanism. Questions are now occurring from the Senators: Burns is asking whether if the renewal were to be today, would NTIA renew? The answer is non-commital and places emphasis on ICANN's annual report. Several questions about why a country would enter into a cctld agreement with ICANN. A: Victory is making a lot of comments, the one that rings with me is that the net was running... Listening to the hearings - Part II, Nancy Victory's statement
  41. Listening to the hearings - Part III, Paul Twomey, CDT, Verisign, and eNOM July 31 2003 Paul Twomey is speaking. He begins by reciting ICANN's "reforms". He's mentions "consumer" issues: Redemption Grace, elides over whois privacy (or lack thereof), and WLS Security and stability - he is describing the committees (security and root-server) but not their output (or lack thereof.) Verisign: Begins my mentioning that Verisign runs two root servers as well as creation of the root zone file itself. He wants ICANN to expand to more stakeholders. He wants ICANN to emphasise security of root servers. (So do I.) He wants ICANN to evolve into an entity that ccTLD are willing to sign agreements with. (But provides no concrete details.) He mentions excessive micromanagement by ICANN several times. He is suggesting that ICANN be a technical umbrella and not engage in "business micromanagement". Alan Davidson/CDT - Points out that the distributed internet depends on a few centralized name/number services. He feels ICANN is needed, but... Listening to the hearings - Part III, Paul Twomey, CDT, Verisign, and eNOM
  42. A question for those running for Governor of California August 07 2003 I pose the following question to those who have chosen to run for Governor of California: Considering the financial crises in which the State of California finds itself, would you, as Governor, continue to provide tax exempt status to corporations that claim to be public benefit corporations while they bar the public from their processes, repudiate their accountability to the public, and blatently operate to limit consumer choice and artificially raise prices in order to benefit a small set of privileged business interests?... A question for those running for Governor of California
  43. Is the internet dying? August 19 2003 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 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. Between viruses and spammers and just plain old bad code, the net is now subject to a heavy, and increasing, level of background packet radiation.  And the net has very long memory - I still get DNS queries sent to IP addresses that haven't hosted a DNS... Is the internet dying?
  44. What is ICANN's job, tell me again? August 29 2003 An item on NANOG (The North American Network Operator's Group)  just landed in my e-mail box. Now, what is interesting about this item is that it announced the deployment of a new DNS root server.  This is a good thing and the folks who did it should be thanked. However, this is not a trivial change in the Internet and it is most definitely related to the stability of DNS operation on the Internet. Was ICANN involved in this?  There is no sign of it. Did ICANN provide any funds for this out of its nearly $10,000,000 yearly budget?  Not that I can find. Was ICANN even notified of this significant change?  There is no indication that ICANN knew this change was being considered much less that it was being put into effect. So tell me again, what is ICANN's job?  Isn't ICANN supposed to have at least something to... What is ICANN's job, tell me again?
  45. Response to Bret Fausett August 29 2003 In response to my previous item Bret Fausett commented (in an item on his blog) "I don't see why ICANN should be involved in the manner in which the root server operators deploy their servers." From a technical perspective, my answer is that the ICANN that exists today is not competent to be more than marginally involved any technical matter. However, we need to step back and look to the purpose for which ICANN was established: the "technical coordination" of the DNS and IP address allocation systems of the net to ensure the continued and reliable operation of those systems. The operation of those technical systems has a great impact on the reliable operation and security of the net.  ICANN was to be a forum in which the raw technical concerns could be leavened with those (and presumably only those) policy issues that have a close and direct impact on... Response to Bret Fausett
  46. Why is Battle of Algiers so hard to obtain in the USA? September 01 2003 I've noticed a conspicuous absence from the US movie scene and market - it is the 1965 film Battle of Algiers. Given the position of the US in Iraq, I would think that this movie ought to be required viewing. However, if one can snag a copy at all in the US, it is on VHS tape (although DVD versions are available in Europe.) The US movie industry treats us all as thieves-in-waiting and blames its reduced sales on illicit copying. I would buy a region 0 or 1 DVD version of Battle of Algiers if I could find a copy. This is a movie with an important message for the citizens of America of today, it is very sad that it is not easily available.... Why is Battle of Algiers so hard to obtain in the USA?
  47. "non-achievable representativity goals"? September 02 2003 Thomas Roessler's blog contains an entry, Re: Organization vs Issues which puts forward an argument why ICANN's ALAC ought to be issuing position statements on substantive ICANN policy matters when the ALAC itself has only the thinnest and weakest of tendrils into the community of people affected by the internet and ICANN's policies. Thomas is a valiant warrior who does carry the flag of public interest. But my sense is that his note hints more of retreat than of progress. I'm not sure can find the core of his argument. However, I did note the claim that any user representation body would be subject to criticism because it doesn't represent individual users. Now, I find that to be a very odd claim, particularly when that claim is coupled with the statement that "representativity" is "non-achievable". I'd like to know why it is that elections by internet users for representatives on... "non-achievable representativity goals"?
  48. Will Network Solutions/Verisign Get Away With It Again? September 22 2003 As pretty much everyone now knows, Verisign recently used its monopoly registry position over .com and .net to impose a revenue-producing mechanism, which they call "SiteFinder", onto all users of  the internet who are human and thus who make mistakes. I think that it has now been pretty well established that Verisign's "SiteFinder" has damaged the technical stability of the Internet, that it represents a major abuse of Verisign's monopoly position, and that it amounts to a mass harvesting of web user's browsing habits. ICANN has requested that Verisign voluntarily roll-back "SiteFinder".  Verisign has, so far, refused to do so. I believe that what ICANN is requesting is entirely appropriate and that a due respect for the stability of the internet should compel Verisign to comply with that request.  However, there are signs that greed will prevail over reason and that Verisign will withdraw "SiteFinder" only in the face of... Will Network Solutions/Verisign Get Away With It Again?
  49. GNSO Wimps out September 25 2003 I see that ICANN's GNSO issued a resolution regarding the Verisign Registry Site Finder "service". Verisign's action is very serious. Verisign's act repudiates the end-to-end principle, the foundation upon which the Internet is constructed. Verisign's act implies the end of coherent governance of the Internet and the abandonment of the net to monopolistic manipulation. In contrast to the seriousness of Verisign's action, the GNSO's resolution is weak, equivocal, and timid. In an article today, Verisign's CEO asserted that what Verisign has done is benign and that only a noisy few are concerned. With timid and euphemistic resolutions such as the one passed by the GNSO, no one ought to be surprised if people begin to believe Verisign's words and "Site Finder" becomes the established status quo.... GNSO Wimps out
  50. The California Recall September 25 2003 A person would have to be a troglodyte to not know that we are having a recall election here in California. It is an amazing experience.  It is certainly visibly less organized than the typical election, but there is order - the situation has not disintegrated into chaos. For once we are seeing a wide variety of candidates; for once we have a real menu to select from. I think that more elections should be like this one. California is having a very healthy fling with democracy. This is in stark contrast to our favorite "public benefit" entity, ICANN, an entity that tossed elections overboard at at the first opportunity. How am I going to vote? AGAINST: the recall.  Touchstone [from Shakespeare's As You Like It]: described my rationale nicely:     "a poor virgin, sir, an ill-favoured thing, sir, but mine own". FOR: Arianna Huffington... The California Recall
  51. First Law of the Internet September 26 2003 Several times over the last few years I have referred to a formulation that I call "The First Law of the Internet". I believe that this First Law represents the proper balance between public and private effects of internet activity.  This First Law is in need of significant refinement, but is there anyone out there who believes that this First Law does not point the proper direction?  If so, I encourage the articulation of that view. Given the recent private acts on the net by Verisign, acts that have a broad public impact, I believe that it is worthwhile to visit the most basic questions regarding what the internet is and how we accommodate competing and conflicting uses. The First Law of the Internet Every person shall be free to use the Internet in any way that is privately beneficial without being publicly detrimental. The burden of demonstrating public detriment... First Law of the Internet
  52. SiteFinder II? September 27 2003 Versign's SiteFinder appears to be based on the idea that anything on the internet that is not explicitly prohibited is thereby permissible. For the moment let's put aside Verisign's monopoly position and the special responsibilities and limitations on behavior that derive from that position.  And let's also put aside any patents that may be lurking out there that might cover SiteFinder. If we assume, for the sake of discussion, that Versign's has correctly asserted that there are few bounds on what it can do on the internet, then where could Verisign go with something that I'll call SiteFinder II? It would be quite easy for Versign to modify its existing SiteFinder service so that instead of returning the true and unmodified URL's that lead directly to the web sites that a user selects, SiteFinder II could return URL's that lead to Verisign operated proxy servers that themselves obtain the desired... SiteFinder II?
  53. Verisign and - the Very Odd Couple September 30 2003 I live in California, so I'm used to seeing really strange couples. But today I saw something that stood out as far more than just an overwrought case of run-of-the-mill odd.  It stood forth as deserving to be considered a fundamental contradiction of terms. What I saw is this: Verisign has started a website - - that proclaims itself as the "Network Solutions Privacy Web Site"! Now that's really a bizzare combination. On one hand the website proclaims "The personal data that you provide when you register a domain name should be just that - personal. That's why Network Solutions is leading efforts in campaigning for stronger domain name privacy rules". On the other hand we see that very same Network Solutions gathering information on 20,000,000 internet users a day via its "Sitefinder" and shipping that information to another company, If Verisign wants to demonstrate that it cares... Verisign and - the Very Odd Couple
  54. Sitefinder vs the "Rise of the Stupid Network" October 07 2003 I hope everyone has read David Isen's paper, the Rise of the Stupid Network. That paper argues that telephone company networks became obsolete and inefficient dinosaurs, hostile to new innovation, because they put too much "intelligence" into the middle of the network. The success of the internet is based in large part on the end-to-end principle, a principle that promotes designes in which the net is a mere conveyor of packets and that services are pushed outside of the net and into the end points. It seems to me that Verisign's Sitefinder is an example of exactly the kind of end-to-end violation that gave rise to the inefficient and difficult-to-innovate telephone networks that David Isen complains of in his article. Verisign's Sitefinder puts a "service" (Verisign's term, not mine) into the middle of the net, thus creating an impediment to others who wish to innovate at the proper place -... Sitefinder vs the "Rise of the Stupid Network"
  55. Answering Thomas' Question October 07 2003 Thomas Roessler asks a question in his blog - "What kind of innovation should be encouraged (or dicouraged)"? Let me answer that by citing my First Law of the Internet:  (See my blog entry at The First Law of the Internet Every person shall be free to use the Internet in any way that is privately beneficial without being publicly detrimental. The burden of demonstrating public detriment shall be on those who wish to prevent the private use. Such a demonstration shall require clear and convincing evidence of public detriment. The public detriment must be of such degree and extent as to justify the suppression of the private activity. I believe that there is massive evidence, evidence that is both clear and convincing, proving that Sitefinder creates not only present damage to the internet but also substantially compromises the future development of the internet.  That, to me, is a... Answering Thomas' Question
  56. SCO and Verisign, the Techno Bobbsey Twins? October 16 2003 It was reported today that Verisign is going to revive its internet-damaging "sitefinder". My guess is that this is headed towards litigation involving ICANN, Verisign, and the US Department of Commerce. And my guess is that this is exactly what Verisign intended to happen. It appears that Verisign has followed a well planned strategy to create the appearance of technical debate and a colorable (albeit technically empty) claim that there is no reason to fear irreparable harm.  This strategy seems designed to create a long and expensive legal fight in which Verisign will argue that judges should refrain from imposing their lay decisions on questions on which technical experts are purported to be divided.  And Verisign will probably argue that due to the absence of irreparable harm "sitefinder's" DNS wildcard redirection mechanism should be allowed to operate, and generate revenue for Verisign, during the legal proceedings. Verisign seems to be... SCO and Verisign, the Techno Bobbsey Twins?
  57. Regarding the sale of NSI October 16 2003 So, Verisign, a California corporation with its principal offices in California, is selling Network Solutions, which I believe is, or at least was, a Virginia corporation that certainly has its principal offices in Virginia, to Pivotal Private Equity, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Pivotal Group, a Phoenix Arizona based real estate investment firm. Because of NSI's location, the jurisdiction for many types of domain name related legal matters has been Virginia. Will the jurisdiction of these cases now move to either California or Arizona?... Regarding the sale of NSI
  58. Why is ICANN still running a server for .museum? October 16 2003 I just noticed that the set of authoritative name servers for .museum is the following: museum. 86400 IN NS museum. 86400 IN NS museum. 86400 IN NS museum. 86400 IN NS museum. 86400 IN NS Why is ICANN still providing a server for .museum?... Why is ICANN still running a server for .museum?
  59. The pot calling the kettle black - ICANN runs a wildcard server too October 16 2003 As I noted in my prior blog entry - Why is ICANN still running a server for .museum? - ICANN is running a TLD server on behalf of .museum. I just checked and that server is providing wildcard-based replies for names in .museum, just like Versign's "sitefinder" does for .com. In other words, ICANN is running a TLD server that does exactly what ICANN demands that Verisign stop doing. Seems like a case of the pot calling the kettle black. PS - you can repeat my experiment with the command: dig The pot calling the kettle black - ICANN runs a wildcard server too
  60. In response to Keith Teare October 18 2003 In an October 17 entry in his blog (on the subject of Verisign's "sitefinder") Keith Teare said: For what its worth the DNS service is actually better than it was before for HTTP requests to mistaken addresses. An error message has effectively been replaced with a redirected help screen. Where there are minor inconveniences - as with SMTP - these can easily be worked around if the industry is aware of the use of wildcards. No need for a huge over-reaction here. A "minor inconvenience"? This reminds me of a time earlier this year when NASA was dismissing the insulation-impact damage to the Shuttle Columbia as "minor" and was assuring everyone that there was no need for a huge over-reaction. Just as the damage to Columbia proved to be far more significant, Sitefinder's wildcard-record based redirection goes far beyond being a "minor inconvenience". Quite the contrary: Sitefinder's commits mayhem on... In response to Keith Teare
  61. Insufferable? October 24 2003 The people who want ICANN to create .travel are saying that ICANN's delay is "insufferable". I have discussed the hubris of the .travel proponents in the past. It is indeed insufferable that ICANN is delaying new TLDs - ICANN has demonstrated no reason why top level domains should not be created at a rapid rate.  It is time for ICANN to adopt an combination auction/lottery system as has been proposed by several observers.  See The .travel people seem to believe, however, that they have some divine right to their own top level domain.  They are incorrect. Certainly they have a right derived from the continued existence of their application of year 2000.  But each of the 39 other applicants who were not selected that year have that same right. There is no reason for any of us to believe that .travel will benefit the community of internet users.  Rather... Insufferable?
  62. Is the Broadcast Flag Constitutionally Permissable? October 24 2003 The Constitution of the United States requires that there be some limit to the duration of copyrights.  The recent Eldridge case indicates that courts will defer to the Congress regarding the quantitative duration of the period of copyright protection.. The "Broadcast Flag" is an impediment to copying that has effects of indefinite duration.  The existence of a Broadcast Flag blocks not merely present fair use but also future fair use.  The flag even prevents the copying of material that has fallen or been placed into the public domain or for which the copyright has expired. A law that forces digital equipment to disable functions in the presence of a Broadcast Flag gives copyright holders a means to impose limitations from beyond the grave, effectively for ever. Because the effects of the Broadcast Flag are potentially of infinite duration, it is worthwhile to inquire whether Congress is Constitutionally able to pass... Is the Broadcast Flag Constitutionally Permissable?
  63. E-voting Forum - Oct 26 October 24 2003 If this coming Sunday (October 26, 2003) you find yourself in either the San Francisco or Monterey Bay areas, then please consider coming to the Forum on Electronic Voting.... E-voting Forum - Oct 26
  64. Top Level Domain Follies October 28 2003 Bret Fausett quite reasonably argues that ICANN's TLD (Top Level Domain) "test bed" is dead. I don't think that there ever was much life in that test bed. I was trained in the hard sciences - mainly chemistry and physics.  And I spent some of my undergraduate years doing research on high input-power chemical lasers.  I also spent time in the soft sciences where I did research on patterns of urban mobility.  In all of this work we used a technique called "the scientific method" - it involves observation, formulation of hypothesis, predictions based on the hypothesis, and experiments to test those predictions (and indirectly the hypothesis.) ICANN never really followed any process, much less one as structured those used in the hard sciences, to focus its observations of the behavior of new TLDs.  ICANN's information gathering was never better than ad hoc.  And there were neither hypotheses, predictions, nor... Top Level Domain Follies
  65. Really Supporting The Troops - Bring 'Em Home By Christmas! October 30 2003 Pretty soon the US will have sunk or allocated approximately $160,000,000,000 into this Iraq "war" (I use quotes because Congress has never actually used its Constitutional power to declare that the US is in a state of war with Iraq.) According to the CIA fact book, Iraq has a population of slightly less than 25,000,000 people.  That works out to a US expenditure of $6,400 for every person in Iraq.  Although neither the CIA nor the World Bank have current values for per-capita income, it is fairly clear that $6,400 amounts to several multiples of the yearly income of the average Iraqi. The $160,000,000,000 for Iraq appears to be merely the first installment of what promises to be a long and expensive transfer of money out of the pockets of US Taxpayers. So, let's really support our troops - let's bring 'em home by Christmas - this year, 2003!  And... Really Supporting The Troops - Bring 'Em Home By Christmas!
  66. In response to Mark Jeftovic November 03 2003 Mark Jeftovic of easyDNS Technologies Inc. posted an item today 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. It turns out that such an idea has been floating around for several years - I have heard the idea credited to Kent Crispin. It is, by my way of thinking, a very good idea. [Update: I have been informed that Richard Sexton suggested this idea in 1996.] Take a look at the TXT resource records in the zone: dig txt What you will see is pretty much what Mark is asking for, the contact information for the zone, in a format that is readible by both people and software. All... In response to Mark Jeftovic
  67. Reagan, CBS, Iran-Contra, and ICANN November 06 2003 So, CBS is dropping its miniseries on President Reagan because some feel it may be historically inaccurate and cast the Great Communicator (also known as the Teflon President) into a less than flattering light. This leaves CBS with a need to fill several hours of dead air.  Might I suggest that CBS fill that time with readings from Lawrence E. Walsh's book Firewall, a book that recapitulates the events of Iran-Contra and the subsequent investigation. Walsh, who no one can call a radical, was the independent counsel in the Iran-Contra investigation.  Walsh ends his book by condemning Reagan for his "willful disregard of constitutional restraints on his power." [page 531 in the paperback edition] With lines like that, those who wish to continue to perpetuate the movie land white hat image of Reagan might want to resurrect the plausible deniability of CBS's now canceled fictional portrayal. It is interesting how... Reagan, CBS, Iran-Contra, and ICANN
  68. Should California continue to grant tax exemptions to purported public-benefit corporations that do not really benefit the public? November 24 2003 As many of you know, I live in California.  And as you also probably know, we Californians' have not only a new governor but also a state budget that is out of balance (in the bad direction) by many billions of dollars. Today I sent the following letter to our new governor suggesting that he inquire into certain tax exemptions granted to corporations that claim, without meaningful foundation for that claim, to exist for the purpose of benefiting the public. November 24, 2003 The Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger Governor of California State Capitol Building Sacramento, CA 95814 Congratulations on your recent election and inauguration. I have no doubt that the matter of California's fiscal situation is occupying much of your time. I would like to bring to your attention a means through which California could, to a degree, improve the financial situation.  This is not something that would bring in a... Should California continue to grant tax exemptions to purported public-benefit corporations that do not really benefit the public?
  69. About Bush's Thanksgiving Trip To Baghdad December 02 2003 I hear rumors that he plans to make it a yearly event.... About Bush's Thanksgiving Trip To Baghdad
  70. Privacy where art thou? December 02 2003 What ever happened to the issue of privacy in ICANN's GNSO? There was discussion up to and including ICANN's meeting in Montreal. And utter silence since.... Privacy where art thou?
  71. Will ICANN Reveal Its True Self To WSIS? December 03 2003 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. I wonder whether ICANN will reveal its true self to WSIS or whether ICANN will continue to obscure itself, its abilities, and its real powers. ICANN's own bylaws say that ICANN's mission: is to coordinate, at the overall level, the global Internet's systems of unique identifiers, and in particular to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet's unique identifier systems... [emphasis added] There's that word "ensure".  According to Merriam-Webster, the word "ensure" means "to make sure, certain, or safe : GUARANTEE".   ICANN is a public-benefit corporation, thus that guarantee is presumably a guarantee made to the public. And according to ICANN's "Memorandum of Understanding" with the United... Will ICANN Reveal Its True Self To WSIS?
  72. Responding to Ross Rader's Note "Palfrey's Tragedy" December 18 2003 Ross Rader had an item in his blog titled "Palfrey's Tragedy" In that entry Ross suggests that ICANN is not a body in which the public need have a participatory role that exceeds the role of other pariticpants. Ross is a thoughtful person who brings a positive and constructive attitude.  His opinions deserve serious consideration.  Often I find that his opinion reflects my own.   However, in this case I find myself in disagreement. ICANN, as it is presently constituted, has no way in which members of the public can partiicipate in ICANN's decisionmaking processes in any way that resembles parity with ICANN's hand picked "stakeholders".  The interests of the community of internet users are infrequently heard, rarely considered, and almost never adopted by ICANN's "stackholder" based (and stakeholder biased) structures and procedures. Why should those hand picked "stakeholders" get double and triple representation in ICANN's forums when members of... Responding to Ross Rader's Note "Palfrey's Tragedy"
  73. Is ICANN Blowing It Again? January 09 2004 Yesterday the following announcement from Verisign appeared on the NANOG mailing list: VeriSign Naming and Directory Services will change the serial number format and "minimum" value in the .com and .net zones' SOA records on or shortly after 9 February 2004. The current serial number format is YYYYMMDDNN. (The zones are generated twice per day, so NN is usually either 00 or 01.) The new format will be the UTC time at the moment of zone generation encoded as the number of seconds since the UNIX epoch. (00:00:00 GMT, 1 January 1970.) For example, a zone published on 9 February 2004 might have serial number "1076370400". The .com and .net zones will still be generated twice per day, but this serial number format change is in preparation for potentially more frequent updates to these zones. ... There should be no end-user impact resulting from these changes (though it's conceivable that... Is ICANN Blowing It Again?
  74. ALAC a bust in North America January 27 2004 Has anyone noticed that the only groups that have decided to apply to become ICANN /ALAC "structures" are small groups outside of North America? (See Why is this the case? My guess is that most people in North America reject the ICANN/ALAC demand that we abandon a fundamental principle of democracy - the right to discuss matters and form coalitions without having to obtain permission from the government (in this case ICANN/ALAC.) Here in the United States we can form groups without telling the government our purpose and goals nor are we obligated to disclose and explain our finances, membership, and political stratagies on the internet. But ICANN/ALAC demands this. Here in the United States we can form political groups without having to be "certified" by the government. But ICANN/ALAC requires it. It is bad that ICANN imposes these dreadful conditions on individuals who wish to engage in internet... ALAC a bust in North America
  75. My Three Contributions to the ITU Workshop On Internet Governance February 18 2004 Next week the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is holding a Workshop On Internet Governance. I will be attending as an invited expert.  It looks like there will be lots of interesting people there. I have submitted three written contributions to the workshop.  The list of contributions may be see on the ITU's website at: My three contributions are these: Deconstructing Internet Governance Governing the Internet, A Functional Approach First Law of the Internet Update (March 7, 2004): See for a link to my presentation at the meeting. Submission to the Workshop on Internet Governance 26-27 February 2004 Deconstructing Internet Governance Author: Karl Auerbach, former North American publicly elected Director, ICANN In my final report to ICANN[1] I suggested this definition of the internet:     The internet is the open system that carries IP packets from source IP addresses to destination IP addresses. This proposed definition of the internet... My Three Contributions to the ITU Workshop On Internet Governance
  76. Impressions of ICANN/Rome March 03 2004 I'm here at the ICANN meeting in Rome - in the suburbs of Rome actually. Anyway, remember what the "I" in ICANN stands for?  It's "Internet".  So one might expect that there would be reasonable access to the net to support the meeting.  Unfortunately reality fails to rise to match that expectation. Access to the network from here is pathetic.  It's a wireless setup with inadequate coverage (and signal strength too low) and inadequate (congested) backhaul (it's an ADSL link.)  It bounces up and down like a clown on a pogo stick.  And to make it worse, it's one of those hotel card-based systems that intercepts TCP port 80 and forces the user to deal with a per-person web-based registration system.  Connectivity in the terminal area (the only area in the hotel where the level of fresh and stale cigarette smoke is merely slightly less than immediately carcinogenic) is shut... Impressions of ICANN/Rome
  77. My presentation (and notes) from the ITU meeting March 07 2004 Here's a link to my presentation (and my notes) from the ITU's Workshop on Internet Governance held at the end of February 2004 in Geneva.... My presentation (and notes) from the ITU meeting
  78. ICANN ALAC in Rome March 07 2004 I went to one of the ALAC meetings at the ICANN meeting near Rome. I do not believe that ICANN's ALAC system will work.  Under ALAC an individual must join an ICANN-approved local club that, in turn, must join an ICANN-approved regional club that, in turn, sends a few delegates to ICANN's ALAC that, in turn, sends a few delegates to ICANN's nominating committee (other non-ALAC bodies also get to send delegates) that, in turn, names a portion of the ICANN Board of Directors who, in turn, routinely rubber-stamp the output of ICANN's "staff".  Under this system, an individual has about as much ability to affect ICANN's decisions as he or she has ability to affect the selection of the next Pope. When I was on ICANN's board, I was hoping that my belief would be proved wrong and I voted to support the ALAC effort.  The ALAC was chartered... ICANN ALAC in Rome
  79. Where'd did the .root top level domain come from? March 07 2004 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. Unlike most TLDs, .root TLD is not delegated to a second tier or servers.  Instead it is handled directly by the root servers themselves. .root contains exactly one name: vrsn-end-of-zone-marker-dummy-record.root. That name is associated with exactly one resource record: a TXT record containing the single word "plenus", a Latin word meaning "full" or "complete". You can check this for yourself.  Try running the following Unix/Linux/BSD... Where'd did the .root top level domain come from?
  80. Thomas is right March 11 2004 Thomas Roessler's blog has an entry commenting on my opinion that a .mobile top level domain would be a dumb idea. Thomas is right that ICANN should not be inquiring whether the proposed use of a top level domain is good or bad.  I have always believed that ICANN should be blind to the way in which an operator of a TLD uses that TLD (as long as the technical requirements of internet standards are followed.) See my statement on new TLDs in my campaign platform from year 2000. However, as long as ICANN insists on restricting the number of TLDs to only a chosen few then preference should be given to those applications that have minimal limitations on usage and have maximum room for innovation by users.  Equally we should eschew those applications that are clearly intended to benefit a single industry segment. So, if ICANN were to open... Thomas is right
  81. Open Source, Voter Verifiable Voting March 22 2004 The Open Voting Consortium (with which I am affiliated) is going to be demonstrating an open source, voter veriable, auditable, accessible to physically disabled voters, voting system that runs on commodity hardware and freely available operating systems: Open Source, Voter Verifiable Voting
  82. Sixth Meeting of the UN ICT Task Force March 23 2004 The Sixth Meeting of the UN ICT Task Force will be this week in New York. I will be attending. I have prepared and submitted a short note, entitled "Questions and Answers About The Internet and Internet Governance".... Sixth Meeting of the UN ICT Task Force
  83. .mobi Considered Dangerous (to the Internet)? March 23 2004 There's an article today (.Mobi's Case For Mobile Domains) that makes me nervous. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I believe that new top level domains should be granted to pretty much anyone who can demonstrate technical competence and a willingness to abide by relevant internet technical standards.  This is really a corollary of what I call "The First Law of the Internet". I believe that .mobi, or rather the technology approach that it represents, could contain a significant "public detriment" by virtue of a potential lack of adherence to the spirt of some internet standards. The article mentions that .mobi is needed because mobile devices change addresses and that due to the caching in DNS, DNS data will tend to be out of data as machines move.  This is not a new concern; we had the same concern back in 1987 when we did RFC1001/RFC1002. (I... .mobi Considered Dangerous (to the Internet)?
  84. Who Ought to Govern the Internet? The Caffeine Metric March 29 2004 Well, it looks like we're once again going to be asking the question "Who is going to oversee the core shared resources of the internet?" How are we to chose?  I have a suggestion - C8H10N4O2 - Caffine. So perhaps we ought to chose the group that serves the best quality of coffee at their meetings. By that measure the ITU looses out completely.  The IETF wins on quantity but does quite badly on quality.  The UN comes out mixed on the quality scale and poorly on the availability dimension.  ICANN's coffee quality and quantity are completely unpredictable. At the ITU coffee comes from vending machines. At the UN there are cafes that have pretty good coffee, but they seemed surprised that anyone might actually want some at 9am just before a meeting. The IETF has gallons and gallons of warm brownish liquid made from syrup and hot water. And... Who Ought to Govern the Internet? The Caffeine Metric
  85. ICANN Abandons Technical Matters Altogether April 03 2004 I see that the RIRs and ICANN have, after years of talk, managed to come up with a letter of intent to enter into a "Memorandum of Understanding". That "Memorandum of Understanding" pretty much removes ICANN from any real role in the matter of IP address allocation. As usual, ICANN resorts to the ambiguous words "Memorandum of Understanding" to avoid clearly stating whether or not the relationship being established is legally enforceable as a contract. There is an interesting reference in paragraph 16 of the proposed MoU that refers to an "agreement to be executed between the RIRs and ICANN".  Notice that in that instance the documents use word "agreement" rather than "Memorandum of Understanding".  The word "agreement" is often synonymous with "enforceable contract", so my guess is that's where we will find the terms that transfer money from the RIRs to ICANN, a matter not mentioned in the proposed... ICANN Abandons Technical Matters Altogether
  86. Littering the root with dead TLDs April 07 2004 ICANN has already adopted some new TLDs that are essentialy moribund or useless to the general internet community - .pro, .museum, .aero, .coop, .name etc. ICANN is on the verge of adding other new TLDs that may also prove to be duds. Unfortunately, because of ICANN's silly obsession with "sponsorship" ICANN is pouring concrete around the semantics and uses of such TLDs, thus minimizing the chance that, if they turn out to failures, they can be reaped and recycled for purposes that might actually prove of value to the community of internet users. Let's look at .mail, a proposed new TLD. Yes, spam is a problem. But I see no evidence that this new TLD will prove to be a partial cure, much less a panacea. As far as I can tell it will do no more than SPF. And SPF doesn't require a top level domain. I'd certainly like... Littering the root with dead TLDs
  87. ICANN's Status Report - Devoid of Real Contents April 08 2004 I see that ICANN has published its latest status report to the US Dept of Commerce. It's refreshing to see that ICANN has stopped trying to make it look impressive by larding it with lists of protocol parameters written down by IANA. Thinking of IANA - The only technical content in the entire 36 pages is talk about the L root server. The report talks about the L server as if that server were part and parcel of ICANN. Yet doesn't that root server come to ICANN via a purchase order from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in which ICANN agrees to perform the IANA function? If so, then that root server job goes wherever the IANA purchase order goes and doesn't belong to ICANN any more than the Awhanee Hotel in Yosemite belongs to whoever is running the National Park concession at the moment. And thinking about... ICANN's Status Report - Devoid of Real Contents
  88. What is the "computer" in a Microsoft EULA? April 09 2004 Today on /. there was an item about Microsoft permitting the reinstallation of some of Microsoft's so-called "operating systems" on donated computers. Now, personally I'd suggest that Linux or Bsd or some other system be loaded onto such machines, but that's not the subject of this note. Rather, I kinda wonder about what happens to someone who has purchased a Microsoft license and then, after a few years, buys a replacement machine and junks the original machine. It seems that Microsoft's license requires that the user tender another pound of flesh to Microsoft for a new license. But I wonder - what exactly is the definition of "computer" ? Could one, for example, rip the CPU out of the old machine and duct tape it to the motherboard of the new one? Would that preserve the identity of the old machine. Sure that sounds like an artificial and conjured argument.... What is the "computer" in a Microsoft EULA?
  89. It's been 8 years since we last elected a president - Support Open Voting and Voter Verified ballots. April 25 2004 In a real democracy the outcome of elections is determined by the intention of the voters not by software flaws or mechanical failures. It's been 8 years since we last elected a president.  At this weeks CFP it became clear that there are substantial entrenched interests that value efficiency and profit above the integrity of our elections. At CFP I heard people who certify voting systems and elections officials claim that paper, whether in the form of voter verifiable audit trails or in the form of actual ballots, are too hard to process.  I heard others make false claims that paper trails are somehow inconsistent with voting systems that may be used by those who have physical impairments. Contrast those claims with an article that appeared in the March 2004 issue of the Atlantic Monthly: How Jefferson Counted Himself In.  Even after 203 years, the authors were still able to... It's been 8 years since we last elected a president - Support Open Voting and Voter Verified ballots.
  90. Manipulating Google's Gmail for fun and profit May 03 2004 Don't you just hate it how companies are using us, our knowledge, and our relationships to make money for themselves?  Consider Google's "Gmail" - when I send e-mail to a friend or associate who has an account on Gmail, Google's machines scan the text that I wrote and use that to present paid advertisements.  In effect, Google is data mining my own personal knowledge and relationship with my correspondents. What's in it for me?  Nothing.  In fact, I run the risk of sending something that triggers an advertisement that really ticks off my correspondent on Gmail. But there may be ways to turn things around. Suppose we to establish a company that processes outgoing e-mail. Suppose further that, just as search companies do today, we sell words and phrases.  For example, we might sell the word "pasta" to some company. To induce users to send their outgoing e-mail we would... Manipulating Google's Gmail for fun and profit
  91. Keepin' the ol hog clean May 11 2004 I see today that ICANN held a special board meeting to adopt one resolution. One meeting, one worldwide phone bridge, one resolution.  It must have been an important resolution. Let's take a look at that resolution, or more particularly, let's look at the "whereas" clauses that establish the foundation upon which this resolution is based.  Any errors in those foundations have the effect of weakening the resolution itself. The third whereas says: Whereas, the competitive registrar marketplace introduced by ICANN in 1999 has been successful in driving down prices to consumers and businesses for gTLD domain registrations. Now I find that rather a strange assertion.  In fact it is my strong belief that ICANN's policies over the years have created a price support system that keeps domain name prices to consumers artificially high and has cost domain name consumers hundreds of millions of dollars over the last five years. ICANN... Keepin' the ol hog clean
  92. The ACLU and the "Justice" Department May 13 2004 I've recently become aware of the ACLU lawsuit over these "National Security Letters" - See and Apparently the "Justice" Department is taking a hard line on the disclosure of any information regarding these "National Security Letters".   And that triggered my discordian thought process to see what can be done within the letter of the law. Well, thought I - the Patriot Act only says that those who receive such National Security Letters are forbidden to talk about it - which means that those of us who have not received any such letter are in no way encumbered from telling the world that we have not received one. So, suppose every day I come onto my web site and add a line of the form: "It is now May 13, 2004, 6pm PDT, and as of this time I have not received a National Security Letter." Then, should... The ACLU and the "Justice" Department
  93. Techies wanna do policy May 19 2004 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. Now it isn't that we techies are not capable of making good social policy statements or that we don't have a right to do so.  Rather the point is that such comments ought not to be given inordinate weight based on a presumption that those who are good at technical matters automatically are experts in economic, business, legal, or social matters. Let's look first at the Tim Berners-Lee's document New... Techies wanna do policy
  94. On the Corruption of Power July 05 2004 In the 19th century Lord Acton wrote: "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." Today is the 4th of July, an American celebration of a the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a document that repudiated arbitrary and capricious exercises of power by governments and people who occupy high offices of government. Today I saw Fahrenheit 9/11.  The subject of that film is a modern day government and modern day high officers who have discarded Constitutional limitations and regressed the science of government back to what it was before July 4, 1776, but with members of the present day Executive Branch of the United States Government undertaking the roles then performed by King George III and Lord North. Fahrenheit 9/11 is disturbing.  But the assertion of supra-Constitutional powers by American Presidents is nothing new.  Lincoln and nearly every president of the 20th century claimed and exercised powers beyond those... On the Corruption of Power
  95. Did ICANN Even Notice .Org's Problems? July 05 2004 Last week .org had problems. Many users reported an inability to resolve domain names under .org.  The scope and nature of the problem was masked by .org's heavy use of anycast technology: the problem, and even the appearance of trouble, very much depended on your location in the topology of the internet. Network operators noticed immediately.  ICANN did not. ICANN, the body that proclaims itself to be in charge of the stability of the internet's domain name system, appeared to be completely unaware of the existence of problems with one of the internet's largest top level domains. Instead ICANN, as is typically the case, was obsessed with other matters that have no relation whatsoever to the reliable provision of internet domain name services. Perhaps it is time to establish a new body, one that actually is concerned with the stability of the internet, so that ICANN can finally stop the... Did ICANN Even Notice .Org's Problems?
  96. Comments to ICANN's TF3 July 05 2004 Here's what I sent to ICANN's Task Force 3.  My general impression of the TF 3 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.) Here's what I sent in: Thoughts on the TF3 (accuracy) report (WHOIS TASK FORCE 3 - IMPROVE THE ACCURACY OF DATA COLLECTED FROM GTLD REGISTRANTS PRELIMINARY... Comments to ICANN's TF3
  97. When You Shouldn't Use Voice Over IP (VOIP) July 06 2004 There's been a lot of talk recently about Voice Over IP and how it wonderful it is.  In many regards it is kinda cool. But there are situations in which people ought to be careful and should carefully consider whether VOIP might work to their disadvantage. The reason is simple - delay. A typical POTS (plain old telephone service) phone has nearly no delay - the receiver hears at about the same time you speak.  If there is a delay it is often only a few milliseconds, a time that is barely noticeable to people. VOIP phones, on the other hand, typically insert a few hundred milliseconds (1000 milliseconds = one second) of delay.  This delay is present even if the two phones are on the same LAN. An easy test is to find some phones where the two parties can see one another.  Have one person tap the mouthpiece... When You Shouldn't Use Voice Over IP (VOIP)
  98. First thoughts on ICANN SSAC Report July 09 2004 I'm doing an initial read of the report by ICANN's SSAC report on Verisign's Sitefinder. Findings (2), (4), and (5) of the report are based on an assertion that Verisign violated "the well-defined boundary between architectural layers", "accepted codes of conduct" and "established practices".  I find the claim that there are such "codes of conduct" and such "established practices" to be unjustified and dangerous. These claims represent a major new claim of power in restraint of innovation and commercial practices.  And there are neither clear limits nor objective definitions to these "codes of conduct" and "practices"; they amount to the imposition of neo-religious principles cloaked in technological garb. The report's condemnation of Sitefinder as violating a "well-defined boundary between architectural layers" falls equally hard on practices that the report does not reject - Network Address Translators (NATs), firewalls, and stateful and policy based packet forwarding. It is interesting to contrast... First thoughts on ICANN SSAC Report
  99. ICANN/IANA report on updating root servers July 14 2004 I notice that ICANN/IANA has published a new document titled IANA Administrative Procedure for Root Zone Name Server Delegation and Glue Data  In general it is a sensible and reasonable document. However I have concern about two aspects. First is the following step in their procedure to validate a root zone file change: 4. Each of the servers in the request that is intended to become or remain part of the delegation is checked to be sure that the serial numbers and other information in the SOA (Start Of Authority) record match what is returned by the master (also known as primary) server for the domain. Experience shows that when these records do not match it is likely that there are other operational problems with the name server(s) that are not properly synchronized, especially when the unsynchronized server is intended to be added to the delegation. DNS servers are not... ICANN/IANA report on updating root servers
  100. More thoughts on ICANN's SSAC report on Verisign's Sitefinder July 14 2004 This is a followup to my note of July 9, First thoughts on ICANN SSAC Report. The short form is this: ICANN's SSAC reached the right answer but through the wrong means. ICANN is once again making ad hoc responses to systemic issues.  This creates a regime of unpredictability that places any innovation that is unfavored by ICANN under a cloud.  ICANN further weakens its position by citing as well established processes things that are neither well established (outside of the IETF) nor widely accepted. ICANN has squandered five years by failing to establish objective and broadly accepted guidelines upon which one may rely to know what kind of innovations and inventions will be permitted by ICANN and which will not.  Instead ICANN's report constitutes an assertion that the internet will be governed by a code of subjective orthodoxy. ICANN was created to ensure that the technical aspects of the... More thoughts on ICANN's SSAC report on Verisign's Sitefinder
  101. Looking at the CDT paper July 15 2004 I'm looking at the CDT Back to Basics paper on ICANN. I was disappointed to see the paper begin with the recital that ICANN is a "technical coordination body." That is incorrect - ICANN avoids technical issues as if they carried the plague. With the exception of internationalized domain names (a matter that ICANN ultimately left to the IETF) and ICANN's current action with regard to Versign's sitefinder, the entire life span of ICANN has been marked by the way that ICANN has avoided establishing any policy that could be characterized as "technical coordination". ICANN has instead devoted its lifeblood to regulation of business and economic activity that has utterly nothing to do with technical coordination. Those jobs that do involve technical coordination - jobs such as ensuring that the root servers are run well and with adequate resources and protections - have been abandoned by ICANN into the hands... Looking at the CDT paper
  102. One out of seven ain't bad July 19 2004 I see via Lextext that ICANN's Chairman has said "ICANN's stewardship is international, bottom-up and multistakeholder.  ICANN promotes user choice, predictability and a stable technological environment in which innovation is encouraged." By my count that statement is 1/7 correct, or 6/7 incorrect. ICANN is certainly international - Like the Prodigal Son ICANN has not held a meeting in its home country, much less its home jurisdiction for several years. But is there anything else in the quoted statement that is even close to reflecting reality? Bottom-up?  ICANN has evicted internet users and repudiated any form of end-user participation except through a system of company controlled puppet "organizations."  End users have no role in ICANN except to pay the bills.  And do they ever pay the bills!  ICANN costs the community of internet users over $100,000,000 per year in excessive fees.  Of course, if one considers "the bottom" to be the... One out of seven ain't bad
  103. IPv6 and root servers July 20 2004 There's an article on Reuters today - New Technology Heralds Unlimited Web Sites - ICANN that quotes ICANN as saying " IPv6, had been added to its root server systems" Well, I just dug around a bit and could find is no substance to that claim.  The root zone defines no IPv6 addresses for the legacy root servers and none of the major top level domains I examined had any IPv6 delegation information.  And to top it off it appears that the name registration system may not allow domain name owners to enter IPv6 information. You can check for yourself by using a tool such as "dig" to examine the NS and glue information for the root zone (which is named ".") and for the TLD delegations. To see what an IPv6 delegation looks like try the command dig any Notice the result line that looks like 258570... IPv6 and root servers
  104. Leaping Without Looking - And Taking the Internet Along for the Ride July 21 2004 Please note the "Update" at the end of this item. ICANN announced with a great deal of precision that "[o]n 20 July 2004 at 18:33 UTC the IPv6 AAAA records for the Japan (.jp) and Korea (.kr) country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) nameservers became visible in the root zone file with serial number 2004072000." It might have been hoped that ICANN would have studied the issues pertaining to IPv6 in zone files before it allowed this to happen. But it was not until 19:40 UTC, more than an hour after ICANN's announcement, when the IETF posted a new internet draft dealing with the issue: Title : DNS Response Size Issues Author(s) : P. Vixie, A. Kato Filename : draft-ietf-dnsop-respsize-01.txt Pages : 8 Date : 2004-7-20 In other words, ICANN rushed headlong into deploying IPv6 in the root zone even before the IETF published material on the subject, much less... Leaping Without Looking - And Taking the Internet Along for the Ride
  105. The Rule Against Digital Perpetuities July 27 2004 It seems to me that in the fight over copyright and digital rights management few have considered what happens in the distant future when the material being protected is no longer covered by copyright.  That thought led me to propose the following rule and accompanying pledge. The Rule Against Digital Perpetuities: No Digital Rights Management (DRM) limitation or anti-copying mechanism may endure longer than the original copyright in the protected work. The Pledge: I pledge to neither specify nor standardize nor implement any system that does not conform to the Rule Against Digital Perpetuities. Update August 8, 2004: Rule updated to include anti-copying as well as DRM.... The Rule Against Digital Perpetuities
  106. My talk at the PFIR Internet Meltdown Conference August 08 2004 Here's my notes from my presentation at the PFIR Internet Meltdown conference. I didn't really give this particular talk; my laptop shut itself down (perhaps as an an editorial protest?) so I ended up winging it.  But this is what I would have said if the gods and goddesses of batteries been more agreeable. Internet Governance: Something Important Is Missing Internet Governance is a young art and we ought to expect it to have some problems. However, Internet Governance seems to be a classic case of Satyandra's rule that those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it. (My corollary: If you had a great time doing something then you should forget that it happened.) As it has been practiced so far internet governance is missing some necessary elements: A firm grasp of reality. A framework of principles and procedures. A foundation based on institutions rather than... My talk at the PFIR Internet Meltdown Conference
  107. Thoughts on the Verisign/ICANN decision. August 28 2004 ICANN won, Verisign lost.  Bret Fausett considers this a "broad victory" for ICANN.  I respect Bret and his opinions, however, I feel that the decision is not anything that can be construed as establishing "legitimacy" for ICANN. I was mystified at Verisign's strategy, it seemed ill advised and weak from the outset.  Rather than squarely basing legal arguments on the irrefutable fact of ICANN's role as a private regulatory body, of limited membership, over all domain name related businesses Verisign took what I felt was the bizarre path of trying to demonstrate a conspiracy.  And I don't know what Verisign did to tick off the court, but in my reading of the decision I got the impression that the judge had come to have a very strong antipathy towards Verisign. I have no love for Verisign, particularly after the "SiteFinder" mess.  However, when one gets past the bad taste of... Thoughts on the Verisign/ICANN decision.
  108. John G. == Joseph K.? September 06 2004 I just saw the latest news on John Gilmore's case concerning the requirement to present ID before boarding a commercial aircraft. There are lots of opinions on both sides of the main issue.  But I'm not going to try here to elaborate, much less address, those opinions. Rather, what I am writing about here is the assertion by the government that they can make their arguments in secret, not even telling Gilmore what those arguments are. That assertion screams of Kafka.  Is John Gilmore a modern day Joseph K who is never to learn why his rights are being removed, much less to have a real means to make a challenge? I will soon be writing some thoughts engendered by a book I just read - Sinclair Lewis' 1935 novel It Can't Happen Here  When I read of actions and assertions by the present so-called "Justice" Department - assertions such... John G. == Joseph K.?
  109. A Little Tale September 06 2004 Netburg is a nice place to live.  It barely existed a decade ago.  Today it is home to millions of people and corporations worldwide are moving their headquarters. Netburg is built of wood, nice dry wood; the kind that catches fire easily. Netburg has a problem.  There are people and groups around the world who send incendiary devices into Netburg 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  So far only small parts of Netburg have burned.  But everyone knows that a big fire could happen at any time. Netburg does not have a fire department.  It has thirteen self-appointed fireman who have invested their own money in trucks and equipment.  But those fireman aren't obligated to put out fires or to be impartial about choosing whose fires to put out and whose buildings it will let burn.  To date these fireman have had the self... A Little Tale
  110. On Tucows "Perfect Information" September 07 2004 I cought Tucows' announcement of their "perfect information" system.  (More information here.)  Elliot and Ross continue to be among the most constructive and creative players in the domain name business.  Ross' note is a most useful exposure of the back-room games, and money flows, that most domain name registrants do not see, even though, in the long run, they do pay for. What Tucows is doing is a nice patch to a system that has been created out of the reaction to ICANN's excessively intense and excessively detailed regulatory scheme. Why, for example, has ICANN imposed a registration system on domain names that requires names to be acquired in one year increments up to ten years maximum?  There is no rhyme or reason why a ten year maximum or why it has to be in one year units.  Those were arbitrary impositions - ICANN, acting as the Caesar of Domain... On Tucows "Perfect Information"
  111. Global Addressing Policy September 13 2004 I see that ICANN's ASO - a body composed mainly of the regional IP address registries (RIRs) - has submitted a document entitled INTERNET ASSIGNED NUMBERS AUTHORITY (IANA) POLICY FOR ALLOCATION OF IPv4 BLOCKS TO REGIONAL INTERNET REGISTRIES It is an interesting document.  And I won't do more than mention in passing that it was written mainly by those who receive the allocations described by the policy. As for the policy expressed in the document:  There is no doubt in my mind that the policy itself as articulated in the document is a rational one and appears based on the lessons of years of RIR experience. In terms of its impact on the overall internet this policy is of much greater import than all of ICANN's DNS policies and DNS task force reports and UDRP's put together. Nearly all of ICANN's DNS impositions can be bypassed simply by innovating at... Global Addressing Policy
  112. Thoughts for Next Week's UN WGIG Meeting September 17 2004 Next week will be a meeting of the Working Group on Internet Governance in Geneva.  Unfortunately competing demands on my time prevent me from attending.  (I do spend much of my time building real, running networking products.) There are not a lot of submissions as of this time, so I thought that I'd put forth a few thoughts. The concept of sovereignty of nations is changing - power is eroding from existing nation-states and flowing into the hands of other actors.  This is an historical change and demands the articulation and examination of first principles. Small thinking will lead to small results.  Internet governance wrought only in terms of intellectual property protection or in terms of local economic interests will fail in a few years time leaving us in a no better, and probably worse, position than we are in today. The question that must be answered is raw and... Thoughts for Next Week's UN WGIG Meeting
  113. Containing the whole Science of Government September 17 2004 When thinking about governance and, in particular, internet governance, it is kind of fun to look back to 1857 and read Chapter 10 of Dicken's Little Dorrit. Below are the first two paragraphs.  The entire chapter (and the entire book) are well worth reading. My question for you is this: What body of internet governance best resembles the Circumlocution Office?  (The answer is at the end of this entry.) CHAPTER 10 Containing the whole Science of Government The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government.  No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office.  Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart.  It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. ... Containing the whole Science of Government
  114. The ICANN Daemon September 30 2004 In Unix terminology a "daemon" is a program that has been detached from the process that created it and is now running autonomously. There are those who believe that ICANN should be released from the control of the US Department of Commerce and allowed to act independently.  (See Bret Fausett's well considered posting "Giving Up U.S. Control".)  In other words, should ICANN become a daemon? I believe that that would be a terrible thing to do.  The problem is that ICANN's role is very poorly defined and there is no reason to believe that a released ICANN would not continue to bumble around and become an ever larger, more expensive, and heavier regulatory body that benefits no one other than those ICANN-entrenched incumbents who find ICANN to be a good way to promote their interests and hinder their competitors.  We should not forget that the ICANN of today, through its... The ICANN Daemon
  115. Corporate Failure - Failure of Directors to Exercise Independent Judgment October 05 2004 Boards of Directors of US corporations seem to have an average IQ somewhat above that of a cobblestone and somewhat below that of a roasted chicken. Take, for example, the Board of Directors of Peoplesoft.  They seem to have suddenly realized enough about their CEO to abruptly change his title from "CEO" to "ex-CEO". A person's past behavior often suggests what his future behavior might be.  And in the case of Peoplesoft's now ex-CEO, there is a body of past behavior that, in the opinion of some observers, might be construed as suggesting that he might bring unhappiness to the corporation, its shareholders, its employees, and its customers. Was Peoplesoft's Board less than adequately diligent when it hired its now ex-CEO?  Did they even bother to make a critical inquiry into his past performance?  Or did the Directors of Peoplesoft do what so many Directors of US corporations do -... Corporate Failure - Failure of Directors to Exercise Independent Judgment
  116. ICANN and New TLDs - The $2,000,000 Question October 06 2004 ICANN missed the deadline for creating a plan for new TLDs. Instead ICANN issued an empty document that merely re-expressed what we already well know: that ICANN intends to continue to act as the reincarnation of a Soviet-era centralized planning bureau that, without any justification based on technical need, imposes its own judgment of what the domain name marketplace should be rather than allowing free competition and innovation. But there is another matter that the empty document fails to address: the fate of the roughly $2,000,000 in fees paid by TLD applicants in year 2000.  There are about forty applicants who paid $50,000 each and whose applications have not been rejected and are still pending. ICANN should either repay that money or should process the applications.  Otherwise it is simply expropriation, or worse.... ICANN and New TLDs - The $2,000,000 Question
  117. An Open Letter to NTIA, ICANN, and IANA October 08 2004 I sent the following note to ICANN, IANA, and NTIA: Concern about inadequately evaluated and tested change to DNS root and major TLDs 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. ICANN, IANA, and NTIA are the bodies that are responsible for the stable, continuous, reliable,  and accurate operation of the top tier of the internet Domain Name system.  Whether through positive choice or not  ICANN, IANA, and NTIA are about to allow a change to occur to the top tier of the DNS system. This change may endanger the stability... An Open Letter to NTIA, ICANN, and IANA
  118. Follow-up on my note: An Open Letter to NTIA, ICANN, and IANA October 18 2004 This is a follow-up to my previous posting: An Open Letter to NTIA, ICANN, and IANA In a few days Verisign will remove approximately 15% of the IPv4 address information that the domain name system (DNS) provides when DNS resolvers try to find the set of root servers and the .com and .net top level domains. The apparent motivation is to promote IPv6, which is used by approximately 0% of the community of internet users, at the expense of IPv4, which is used by approximately 100% of the community of internet users. Yes, innovation is important, and IPv6 is a useful innovation.  But just because something is useful does not mean that we should blindly deploy it.  Is there word on this issue from those who's job is to oversee the stable, reliable, accurate, and efficient operation of the upper layers of the DNS?  In particular, has either NTIA, ICANN,... Follow-up on my note: An Open Letter to NTIA, ICANN, and IANA
  119. Something's Happening But We Don't Know What It Is, Do We Mr. Jones? October 21 2004 Again following up on my previous items regarding the removal of certain IPv4 information from certain root, .net and .com DNS responses (See Follow-up on my note: An Open Letter to NTIA, ICANN, and IANA and An Open Letter to NTIA, ICANN, and IANA.) It is now early in the morning (California time) of October 21.  Those changes to the DNS root zone and the .com and .net zones that were to have occurred on October 19 apparently have not been made. What has happened?  Did someone say "no"?  If so, who said it and what is going to happen next? Hopefully someone at NTIA, ICANN, or IANA decided that it would be useful to fully comprehend the ramifications of the pending change during times of smooth net operation and also during transitional periods such as during disaster recovery situations. However, we do not know whether rational and conservative decision-making... Something's Happening But We Don't Know What It Is, Do We Mr. Jones?
  120. My Choice In The Coming Election October 24 2004 I do not believe in superstition.  I believe that society and, in particular, governments, ought to be run in accord with rational processes based on objective and verifiable facts. Because I believe these things I can not vote for George W. Bush.  He is a medieval man who elevates faith above reason and who subordinates facts to personal theology. I believe in science and the use of the human mind.  George W. Bush discounts science and its methods. I do not want to revive the dark ages; I do not want every thought and every act to be evaluated against theology.  Nor do I want the United States to become a state in which fundamentalist religious principles supersede the Constitution and and replace reason with dogma. The Crusades began in the year 1095.  They lasted 250 years.  The results were far different than anticipated by those who began them.  The... My Choice In The Coming Election
  121. Driving Blind October 27 2004 It appears that the IPv6 AAAA "glue" records for .com and .net are now in the root zone.  This means that for the average name query there will be two fewer IPv4 A "glue" records records than before, in other words about 15% fewer than previously. It appears that neither NTIA, ICANN, nor IANA has made any inquiry regarding the safety of this change, particularly during the kinds of partial net connectivity situations that occur during natural and human disasters. The reckless unconcern for net reliability and for the consequences of a change stands in stark contrast to ICANN's use of any exuse, no matter how irrelevant (such as the pronounceability of the name). to block new top level domains (TLDs.) What makes this more ironic is that many who are testing this new change are finding that the new IPv6 servers are not reachable. There is no stronger reason... Driving Blind
  122. Free Postage For Votes October 31 2004 Why is it that we have to pay the full first class postage rate when we cast our votes by mail? Congress critters get franking rights (free postage). Printed books get reduced rates. And junk mail gets reduced, and arguably subsidized, rates. 37 cents doesn't seem like a lot.  But as more and more voters vote by mail the cumulative cost of postage could run into the millions of dollars, all of which is borne by voters. There should be no postage required for the casting of a vote through the US mails.... Free Postage For Votes
  123. Please Vote November 01 2004 Tomorrow is the big day. Please vote. Please vote even if it is raining or snowing. Please vote even if you feel that your vote won't make a difference. (It will.) Please vote even if you do not agree with my own choice. Your right to vote is precious.  It has already been taken from you on matters regarding the Internet. Tommorow is your chance to show the world that individual choice and democracy are still alive.... Please Vote
  124. How Stupid Can You Get? November 09 2004 The following has to be one of the most stupid phrases ever uttered:     "legitimate methods of waging war" War is the ultimate human failure; it is a recourse to the worst forms of coercion: mayhem, death, brutal force, and destruction.  War is never "legitimate"; it is unfortunately sometimes necessary as a final recourse. Over the years various countries have entered into agreements to limit certain kinds of behavior.  That has been a good thing.  However, it is well understood that those agreements can fall by the wayside when a warring party has its back to the wall and is faced with complete destruction.  In addition, some countries, such as my own, have refused to join other nations in agreements that restrict land mines or establish international courts. So who is this government that is trying to argue that some kinds of war are legitimate and some are not?  You... How Stupid Can You Get?
  125. Comment To Bret, Ross, and Thomas: November 12 2004 I've read (via Thomas Roessler's wonderful "ICANN Blog Aggregator") three notes, one by Thomas Roessler, one by Ross Rader, and one by Bret Fausett. These are three people that I respect and trust.  My disagreements below, to the extent they are disagreements, are small when compared to the large number of times when I find myself in agreement with their views. First to Thomas: You write: There is another challenge that ALAC has to deal with: The legacy of the at-large elections in 2000. For many people, ALAC looks like a poor replacement to having prestigious board seats and global elections. In a way, that's true. But look at the policy-making reality: Board members rarely intervene with actual policy issues... ICANN's Board of Directors has enormous power - in fact in ICANN the board has the ultimate plenary power.  ICANN's Board of Directors has time and time again wimped... Comment To Bret, Ross, and Thomas:
  126. First thoughts on ICANN's so-called "Plan" November 16 2004 ICANN at long last finally issued its so-called "Strategic Plan". It's not a very good plan, at least not when viewed from the perspective of the users of the internet or from the perspective of a business that uses DNS or wants to enter the DNS business. ICANN's plan does nothing to protect the technical stability of the net.  ICANN is supposed to be our fire department to make sure that the net doesn't burn down.  But ICANN seems rather more interested in trying to be the king of some other hill leaving the community of internet users unprotected and the internet vulnerable. Below is the initial comment on this plan that I sent to ICANN's "comment" address: To: There is nothing in this plan that deals with ICANN's primary mision: the technical stability of the internet's domain name and IP addressing systems. To be more specific, there is... First thoughts on ICANN's so-called "Plan"
  127. Vodoo Economics a la ICANN November 16 2004 Here are some more thoughts on ICANN's "Strategic Plan". In that report - on page 22 - ICANN is claiming that ICANN has saved the community of internet users over a billion dollars due to reduced fees. That is simply untrue. ICANN has overseen a reduction in domain name fees, that is true. But ICANN has constructed a price floor that prevents fees from being reduced even further and thus has prevented competition from delivering even more savings to the domain name consumer. How much has this price floor cost internet users? My estimate is that this price floor is taxing internet users to the tune of $200,000,000 to $300,000,000 (US) per year.  This estimate is based on ICANN's artificial price floor that is today on the order of $6 per name per year and an estimated non-fiat registry price of about $1 per name per year. Over ICANN's five... Vodoo Economics a la ICANN
  128. Further follow-up on ICANN's so-called Strategic Plan November 17 2004 I have had time to dig deeper into ICANN's so-called Strategic Plan.  (See First thoughts on ICANN's so-called "Plan" and Vodoo Economics a la ICANN) Like ICANN's former CRADA Report this "Strategic Plan" is buzzword-full but content-empty. If we look into section 1 we find the following: Section 1a.i: We see that ICANN is doing nothing more than planning to adopt better paper-pushing procedures to better serve the IETF when the IETF needs a number allocated. Section 1a.ii: It is good that ICANN is thinking about cooperating in the construction of a DNS test bed.  Some of us have been doing this kind of testing for years on our own dime and have been suggesting to ICANN that this would be a good thing to have.  It is only this week that on the NANOG mailing list there has been a discussion of measurements being made privately about the question... Further follow-up on ICANN's so-called Strategic Plan
  129. Welcome Vittorio! (and other thoughts on the WSIS/WGIG) December 02 2004 I was glad to see Vittorio Bertola appointed to the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), part of the UN WSIS effort. His report from Capetown is illuminating: Consider his comments about what ICANN is evolving into: it seems to me that the gnso is trying to exert the authority of global law enforcement system and turning icann into a global police of the internet, that takes care (and is thus responsible) for crimes that are committed through the internet. moreover, it scares me that all the architecture of national and international legal due process that humanity has been building for the last thousand years can be suddenly thrown into the trashcan by a handful of people in a room. I agree.  And as I have mentioned elsewhere - ICANN is evolving into a new kind of mini-government without land - and without accountability. ICANN is not doing what it... Welcome Vittorio! (and other thoughts on the WSIS/WGIG)
  130. On .net redelegation December 03 2004 There's a lot of sound and fury about the .net redelegation. One thing that people tend to forget is that the root servers themselves as well as the servers for the major top level domains are themselves named within the net domain. An experiment should be performed to see what happens to the ability of the net to recover from a shock, in particular the ability of the DNS system to bootstrap itself, should the .net TLD servers be knocked out due to operational error or some other cause. I don't have much faith that ICANN will actually perform such an experiment - ICANN has been remakably willing to make faith-based assertions about such things and to take us and the internet along for a blind walk along the clifftops - See my note "Driving Blind"... On .net redelegation
  131. Elliot you are attending the right ICANN meeting December 05 2004 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. Elliot focuses on the registrar/registry distinction.  I agree with Elliot that there does exist real competition and innovation among domain name registrars. But the points made by Time for Reformation of the Internet go far beyond registries and registrars. ICANN has significantly shaped and restricted the scope of that competition and innovation by imposing requirement after requirement on the kinds of products that registries can offer to registrars and that registrars can offer to... Elliot you are attending the right ICANN meeting
  132. Sartre meets ICANN December 06 2004 I notice that ICANN issued a press release with the title: ICANN successfully concludes Cape Town Meetings Which makes me wonder: What would an unsucessful conclusion be?  Would the ICANN board and staff have to be trapped forever in the meeting room like the characters in Sartre's play No Exit?... Sartre meets ICANN
  133. Would NTIA or ICANN Know Internet Instability If It Smacked 'em Upside the Head And Introduced Itself? December 15 2004 Remember how I've been harping on the reckless actions of the US Department of Commerce's NTIA and ICANN in allowing the removal of 15% of IPv4 information and its replacement by IPv6 information? (If you missed it you can read it in my postings: Driving Blind, Something's Happening But We Don't Know What It Is, Do We Mr. Jones?, Follow-up on my note: An Open Letter to NTIA, ICANN, and IANA, and An Open Letter to NTIA, ICANN, and IANA. Remember how NTIA and ICANN assured me that they would never allow a change that risks the stability of the net. Well, despite the absence of any technical evaluation of the risks, such a change was made by NTIA and ICANN.  And now reports of instability have begun to surface. What has happened is this: With the introduction of IPv6 based name servers, some resolvers running on hosts that have... Would NTIA or ICANN Know Internet Instability If It Smacked 'em Upside the Head And Introduced Itself?
  134. Response to Ross Rader on "Om misses the boat" December 19 2004 Ross Rader in his blog wrote an item "Om misses the boat" I agree with much of it - it is true that ICANN is responding to some proposals for top level domains, that is, if "some" is measured as 9 out of about 55 applications - about 16%. I disagree when Ross says "Sometimes these proposals are solid enough to get ICANN's blessing." Why should ICANN care about the business solidity of a proposal?  Why should ICANN care whether a TLD offering will survive as a business or fail and its assets fall into receivership? It is improper for ICANN to impose business qualifications on those who wish to try their hand at running a domain name business.  For ICANN to make such conditions is to restrain trade. ICANN can not articulate any rational technical basis for those business conditions it imposes.  That is because there is none. In... Response to Ross Rader on "Om misses the boat"
  135. Response to Susan Crawford's Note "Why Internet Governance Is (or Isn't) Like Climate Change" December 23 2004 Recently Susan Crawford in her blog wrote a note entitled "Why Internet Governance Is (or Isn't) Like Climate Change". That note indirectly suggests the question - "What exactly about the internet is in need of governance?"  (Or, to put it the other way around, "What parts of the internet are those that can't be handled by private enterprise left to operate in a competitive system under the typical legal constraints applicable to businesses in general?") There is no doubt that ICANN represents an extension of governmental types of powers on a far more broad scope than is justified - ICANN is a poster child of the kind of excessively intrusive, overly expensive, and innovation crushing bureaucracy that has evolved in the half century since the end of WW-II. And there is justifiable fear that the current WGIG efforts under the auspices of the UN will expand and replicate than kind... Response to Susan Crawford's Note "Why Internet Governance Is (or Isn't) Like Climate Change"
  136. Question of the Day December 31 2004 Q: Which decision of the US government took less time to make?     1. Committing to send a paltry $35 million in aid to deal with the earthquake/tsunami disaster.     2. Deciding to invade Iraq on the basis of conjured data. It seems to me that if the US wanted to do one thing that would reassure the Islamic peoples of the world of our good intentions it would be to immediately rush at least a months worth of Iraq war money along with as many doctors and assistance personal as we have in Iraq to the affected areas.... Question of the Day
  137. Thoughts For the New Year. January 01 2005 My iPod selected an interesting way to begin the year: Virgil Thompson's suite (Stokowski conducting) from the 1936 film The Plow That Broke the Plains. I've owned many copies of this music through the years - going back to an album of 78 rpm disks.  And from these copies I've learned the difference between conductors (such as Stokowski) who can bring out the emotion of a piece and perform a work of art and those (Mariner) who boil it to death and produce meaningless, boring mush. This film and this music are the result of government.  The world is a better place because the government of the United States commissioned these works. In the film we see the combined activities of private farmers plowing, spoiling, and eventually destroying, the great plains grasslands of the United States.  It is no great stretch to imagine ICANN - an epitome of private action... Thoughts For the New Year.
  138. Spam Load January 03 2005 On my most heavily instrumented domain the incoming e-mail is now 97% spam. Most of my domains are under constant Rumplestiltskin attacks (email containing addresses to hundreds and even thousands of possible names). My sendmail backlog (3 day timeout) of bounces/double-bounces is typically on the order of 10,000 pending items per domain. There are an increasing number of obvious zombie machines that send me the same joe-job mails once a day every day. I see no reason to expect the situation to improve and see many reasons why it may get worse.... Spam Load
  139. How Soon We Forget (Technology) January 12 2005 I just got home from a very snowy (nearly 3 meters of snowfall in 3 days) weekend up in the Sequoia National Park - where the really big trees are.  The world's tallest species of tree grows along the California coast, including around my house in Santa Cruz.  But the biggest species of tree, in terms of mass, lives up in the Sierra Nevada, particularly in Sequoia National Park.  And when I say "big", I mean big.  Here's a photo of my wife and her Christmas tree.  It probably sprouted while Rome was an empire.  And it's not nearly the largest, or oldest, tree in the vicinity! These trees exist because they (or rather their ancestors) are highly successful innovators.  When these trees come up with a useful evolutionary trait they don't shoot themselves in the foot (root?) by discarding the new trait simply because it might change the status... How Soon We Forget (Technology)
  140. DNS, Apache, SELinux, Fedora Core 3 January 17 2005 I ran into a problem when trying to run Bind on as a secondary/slave server on Fedora Core 3. Fedora Core 3 contains SELinux. SELinux adds an additional layer of access control on top of the traditional Unix owner, group, and world protection bits. You can run into this problem if you run Bind and your named.conf file specifies a slave zone and also specifies a file into which the downloaded zone file should be placed. Suppose you have an entry in your named.conf file that looks something like this: zone "" { type slave; file "2nd/"; masters {; }; }; You can get an error in your logs that looks something like the following: Jan 16 20:40:26 p3 kernel: audit(1105936826.400:0): avc: denied { write } for pid=7216 exe=/usr/sbin/named name=2nd dev=md4 ino=491657 scontext=root:system_r:named_t tcontext=root:object_r:named_zone_t tclass=dir Jan 16 20:40:26 p3 named[7215]: transfer of '' from failed while receiving responses:... DNS, Apache, SELinux, Fedora Core 3
  141. SELinux and MovableType January 20 2005 I'm still rasslin' with SELinux on Fedora Core 3.  The latest problem was with Movabletype (I'm still using version 2.661.) This entry is being written partially to be helpful to others and partially to test whether my hack actually works. SElinux was not allowing Perl (the language in which MovableType is written) to follow the symlink from /usr/tmp to /var/tmp. Rather than mucking around with the SELinux permissions I simply went into the MovableType Perl files and changed 'em to use /var/tmp rather than /usr/tmp This was a change to file in the extlib directory.  I changed the code (near line 25) so that it looks like the following: # HARD-CODED LOCATION FOR FILE UPLOAD TEMPORARY FILES. # UNCOMMENT THIS ONLY IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING. # $CGITempFile::TMPDIRECTORY = '/usr/tmp'; $CGITempFile::TMPDIRECTORY = '/var/tmp'; Slightly paraphrasing Shakespeare (from "As You Like It"):    a poor hack, sir, an ill-favoured thing,... SELinux and MovableType
  142. What Is The Internet Distance From Hither To Yon? January 20 2005 A few days ago I wrote an item entitled How Soon We Forget (Technology). In the interest of reviving lost ideas I've obtained permission from Cisco to revive some work that I had left unfinished and unpublished.  My intention is to refine and extend this idea and submit it to the IETF. I was, and continue to be, interested in the issue of network control.  For example see my talk From Barnstorming to Boeing - Transforming the Internet Into a Lifeline Utility (powerpoint)    (speaker's notes in .pdf) One piece of this continent-sized chunk of internet terra incognita are mechanisms to learn the shape and quality of the pathways through the net.  This information is necessary for troubleshooting, content management and placement, and service level assurances. It is possible to squeeze a lot of useful information out of tools like Traceroute and pchar, and through inspection of internal and external (BGP)... What Is The Internet Distance From Hither To Yon?
  143. The .net Top Level Domain and Cross-Coupled Failures January 20 2005 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.  If registration problems occur then the only people affected are those who are engaged in obtaining or transferring a name.  But if the name servers go awry then the entire net will be strongly affected. Because .net contains the name servers for so many other TLDs, any weakness in the .net servers could sweep across the net like a tsunami. Perhaps part of the .net redelegation should include an effort to reduce the dependency of other TLDs on .net.  Perhaps the name... The .net Top Level Domain and Cross-Coupled Failures
  144. Wanna Bet He Won't Apply It To His Own Government? January 23 2005 In President Bush's Second Inaugural Address the President said: "it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture" Does he really mean this?  If so then let him begin at home, with his own Department of Commerce, in particular the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and its internet guild, ICANN. ICANN, as we well know, was established through the efforts of NTIA.  The Department of Commerce has several agreements with ICANN.  NTIA and the Dep't of Commerce yearly, if not more frequently, endorse ICANN's actions and promote ICANN as a model institution of internet governance.  If ICANN is not technically an arm of the Executive (Presidential) branch of the US Government, then it is certainly the well tended fruit of that government. Those governmental contracts and endorsements have included an acceptance of ICANN's repudiation... Wanna Bet He Won't Apply It To His Own Government?
  145. Trains and Automobiles Do Not Mix January 26 2005 This morning a nutcase in a jeep automobile caused a major train wreck in Los Angeles. I'm associated with the California Trolley and Railroad Corporation (CTRC).  One of our projects is the restoration of a 1923 mainline steam locomotive. On February 12, 1937 that locomotive (and the train it was pulling) were involved in a similar wreck - a drunk driver and his wife drove their car onto the tracks and walked away.  The engineer and fireman were killed.  The Interstate Commerce Commission report and photos are visible online. India is often considered a lesser developed nation when compared to the United States.  However, in India grade crossing - places where roadways and tracks intersect - are relatively rare.  In the United States grade crossings are quite common, and so are the collisions. 311 people died in the USA in 2002 at railroad grade crossings  We are spending millions of... Trains and Automobiles Do Not Mix
  146. Wow, I Must Be Scary January 28 2005 I notice how much energy the US Government is expending in order to endorse and support relatively open and public elections in Iraq despite the potential that people who oppose the status quo government might be elected. By comparison I note how little energy the US Government (via the US Department of Commerce and its sub-agency NTIA) have expended to endorse and support the restoration of relatively open and public elections in NTIA's foster child, ICANN. There are a lot of really scary people - people who might have more than a passing relationship with the kind of nasty folks who shoot guns, fire RPG's, and launch mortar rounds into their opponents or innocents - who could win in Iraq.  Yet the US and Iraq are moving forward.  (We all might want to pause for a moment this weekend and launch into the luminiferous ether a thought of peace and... Wow, I Must Be Scary
  147. ICANN and Its Fairy Tale January 30 2005 ICANN's recent Loyalty Oath, recites the tired old claim that "ICANN is responsible for ensuring the stable and secure operation of the Internet's unique identifier systems". That claim is false and deceptive. ICANN might recognize an Internet unique identifier one bit 'em and the IETF wrote an RFC about it. But ICANN's role with regard to such identifiers is empty and without form. ICANN does nothing about IP addresses. ICANN does nothing about domain names except to regulate the domain name business place and define DNS products and prices.   ICANN engages in no DNS technical matters.  ICANN does nothing about DNS security.  ICANN has no role in or over DNS root operations or service standards. IANA, not ICANN, writes numbers down in the big book of internet protocol numbers, and the IETF instructs IANA what to write. ICANN's claim that it is "ICANN is responsible for ensuring the stable and..." ICANN and Its Fairy Tale
  148. So Whatever Happened To .Org Last Year? January 31 2005 On July 1, 2004 the .org TLD stopped working. The outage was noticed far and wide - names in .org simply stopped working.  The perception of the outage varied from place to place, suggesting that the problem was related to, exacerbated by, or partially masked by the use of anycast technology by PIR's subcontractor. I noted this event in my blog entry "Did ICANN Even Notice .Org's Problems?" It has taken several months for PIR, the registry operator for .org, to publish its month report for the period. The June report from PIR claims that no name resolution outages that month.  PIR's July report indicates 60 minutes of "unplanned" outage. Was that July outage of 60 minutes the same failure as the one that occurred on July 1?  We can not tell because the PIR July report says absolutely nothing about the date of the outage, its cause, or what... So Whatever Happened To .Org Last Year?
  149. IP/TV vs IPTV January 31 2005 It was only a small surprise to see the announcement of an agreement between Verizon and Microsoft to do TV over the net. But it was a rather larger surprise to see them call it "IPTV". IP/TV is an active, registered US trademark - but not a mark owned by Microsoft of Verizon.  Instead the mark is owned by Cisco and covers a product line to move TV over the internet. I know this because I wrote much of the real-time core of that product back in the 1995-1998 timeframe. I kind'a would'a thought that Microsoft or Verizon would have discovered the existence of the "IP/TV" mark.... IP/TV vs IPTV
  150. The .ewe Business Model - or - It's Just .Ewe and Me, .Kid(s) February 01 2005 .ewe is my Top Level Domain (TLD). - Or as Shakespeare might put it (from "As You Like It" Act V Scene IV): ... an ill-favoured thing, sir, but mine own; a poor humour of mine, sir, to take that that no man else will ... Most of you haven't encountered .ewe - that's because .ewe is found only via root systems that compete with the NTIA/ICANN DNS root. .ewe doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell to be admitted into the NTIA/ICANN root zone:  I've seen what has happened to IOD and .web. I'm not willing to pay ICANN's exorbitant application fee knowing full well that ICANN would reject my application (and keep my application fee) on some aspect of the business plan, or on the pronounce-ability, or on the fact that it isn't "sponsored", or that it might upset someone in the not-yet-existing .eu TLD. I know full... The .ewe Business Model - or - It's Just .Ewe and Me, .Kid(s)
  151. Comments on the Working Papers of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) February 09 2005 I just sent my comments to the Working Group On Internet Governance (WGIG) in response to the working papers published by the group.  Here is a copy: Comments of Karl Auerbach Former North American Elected Director, ICANN Clearly much effort has gone into these papers. The authors are to be thanked and applauded for these initial steps - and I personally hope that the authors will continue their efforts and continue their contributions. And I hope that my comments are accepted, as I intend them to be, as attempts to be constructive. I wish there had been more time to digest them between the date of their publication and the date that comments are due. As a general matter I find that there are certain weaknesses in all of the papers that I read: Too little attention to general principles to shape the discussion and too much focus... Comments on the Working Papers of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG)
  152. The Definition of Internet Governance a la WGIG February 19 2005 Below are my latest comments for the UN's Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG).  (A few typos have been corrected.) Comments of Karl Auerbach Former North American Elected Director, ICANN Regarding the document working definition of internet governance, posted at In the second paragraph the listed participants in this system of governance are: governments the private sector civil society international organizations. Sadly, this list does not include living, breathing, thinking people. Has the concept of governance fallen so low that people no longer have a place? Why should legal fictional persons (i.e. corporations) receive seats via "the private sector" while those who ultimately endure and suffer the burdens of governance and who ultimately pay the price of governance, the individual people of the nations of the Earth, are excluded? The claim has been made many times that "people don't [need] entrée into the halls of internet governance..." The Definition of Internet Governance a la WGIG
  153. Standard Time February 19 2005 Time on the internet should be uniform and global If it is 1:18 am GMT in Paris then it also ought to be 1:18am GMT in Singapore. You might be a dog on the internet.  But woe to you if you try to make up your own version of the time and date and foist it off on others. ICANN and the IAB claim that the internet's Domain System (DNS) requires a single catholic root. If that is true than it is even more imperative that there be one single source of internet time. Dong!  Wrong answer. The time protocol used on the internet, NTP, (RFC1305) not only uses, but actually encourages, multiple time sources.  These sources can all claim to be fully authoritative.  Even under these conditions false tickers - bad clocks - are properly handled and rejected. The domain name system is in serious need of renovation.  Some... Standard Time
  154. Mad Cows Get More Privacy Than People February 19 2005 Under new laws cows infected with Mad Cow disease will get more privacy protection than people who register domain names. Under these new laws the public won't be able to learn information about whether their meat supply is safe. While under ICANN's "whois" policy, the name, address, and phone number of everyone, including children, must be published and made freely available to the predators of the world 24x7x365. Sick cows get privacy backed by law, predators get an easy way to find and stalk children. Wow, it is a mad, mad world!... Mad Cows Get More Privacy Than People
  155. The Other Side of the Coin February 22 2005 Steven Forrest's Free2Innovate blog is full of useful information and commentary.  And I often find myself in agreement with the opinions that are expressed, particularly with regard to the impairment of innovation through overly broad or mis-directed attempts at internet governance. On February 21, Free2Innovate had an item entitled Today's Scary Headline in which, should the question come down to ICANN or the ITU, puts its support behind ICANN. It seems that the core of Steven's concern is that the ITU is a large bureaucracy and that it is affiliated with the UN and the UN has put Tunisia, a country that has questionable credentials with respect to democracy and free speech, in a leadership role in the WSIS (of which WGIG - Working Group on Internet Governance) is a part. Steven also mentions a pull towards ICANN based on its assertion that ICANN has ideals of freedom, openness, technological... The Other Side of the Coin
  156. Two Ewe's - Who Wins? February 23 2005 Chris Ambler in his blog entry "Standard Roots?" responds to my question why should DNS depend on a single source of authority while the internet's time protocol, NTP, survives quite well without any central authority.  In particular he asks how one ought to determine which is the more rightful owner of a domain, such as my .ewe TLD if there are multiple claimants. My answer is very simple: "The Old Fashioned Way".  There is a well traveled road formed by existing practices of competition assisted by the traditional laws governing trade and service marks. To be more precise: Imagine that two .ewe's are started by different people.  There would be the normal race to establish territories, to obtain trade and service mark rights (common law and also by registration), and, most importantly, to obtain customers.  Within the spheres established by the scope of their trademark rights they will evolve over... Two Ewe's - Who Wins?
  157. In Answer Chris Ambler's Good Questions February 24 2005 I'm glad that Chris is asking the questions that he does in his blog, the most recent entry being at Chris continues our discussion of how would we resolve the situation were there to be multiple, and presumably different, versions of a TLD, our example being the TLD that I operate, .ewe. I have suggested the NTP (Network Time Protocol) as an example of a design that deals with a critical element of the net and our economic fabric - accurate time - but which does not require that there be one single authoritative source.  Rather NTP accepts multiple claims of authority and through a process of consensus and heuristics weeks out false tickers (which do exist whether by intent or by error) and produces a result good enough for all but the most precision of timekeeping tasks.  I ask why DNS could not be refined to allow multiple... In Answer Chris Ambler's Good Questions
  158. Apples and Bloggers and Private Government March 07 2005 Susan Crawford wrote an item in her blog entitled "Apple and bloggers" in which she suggests that the protection of blogging (and free speech in general) is more worthy of protection when that speech is being used as part of a "democratic process" than it is if the speech is merely being used in a commercial setting. That's a nice distinction but one that I believe is not viable. The problem is that we are in an era of outsourcing - in particular we are are in an era in which governments are outsourcing their authority into private hands. Here in California we observed the flow of authority over electrical utilities into the hands of companies such as Enron and Duke - an outflow that has cost us billions of dollars. And ICANN is a prime example of how the US Department of Commerce (and its NTIA) have outsourced governmental... Apples and Bloggers and Private Government
  159. The 1991 Adventures of Captain Internet and Cerf Boy March 07 2005 My office tends to be a mess - mountains of paper and equipment of ancient vintage (including some with vacuum tubes and punched paper tape.) Occasionally I have to undertake an archaeological dig to find one lost thing or another.  Because it is an adventure into the unknown there are often serendipitous finds along the way. Todays adventure uncovered a long lost comic book: CERFnet Presents The Adventures Of Captain Internet -and- Cerf Boy: "The LAN That Time Forgot" Yes, its a real comic book - Number 1, October 1991. And it's full of wonderfully awful puns. I also have Number 3 from May 1994 ("One if by LAN, Two if by C") - does anyone have Number 2? I'd scan it in and post it - but it's copyrighted.  I guess you'll have to wait until sometime around year 2090 before it drops into the public domain - unless... The 1991 Adventures of Captain Internet and Cerf Boy
  160. Protecting the Internet - Certified Attachments and Reverse Firewalls? March 14 2005 In may 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. Most people still think that the the main risk of being on the net is the risk that one's own machine might be damaged from things lurking out there on the net. 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. For a decades upon decades Ma Bell (AT&T) insisted that... Protecting the Internet - Certified Attachments and Reverse Firewalls?
  161. Bad Air Day March 16 2005 This afternoon I did something entirely different. I landed (or more accurately, I dropped) a 747-400 through the runway at SFO and I used a 757 to plow a furrow in a field outside of Chicago. Then I flew around on Mars. You should be very glad that I did not decide to become an airline pilot. I spent the afternoon over at the Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility at NASA/Ames.  In particular I was attempting to fly this and that - not very successfully I might add. NASA is apparently partially shuttering this facility in order to shift funds to other projects - it's part of our President's goal to return to the moon and go to Mars. I am fully in support of resuming manned space exploration. But I don't see why we have to sacrifice research into the safety of airline cockpit operations.  Pilots are flying ever larger... Bad Air Day
  162. Juxtaposition March 20 2005 Today's news brought two items that are interesting in their separate ways but much more interesting when placed side by side. First we see an article (also at) in which the US National Institutes Health (NIH), a US Federal agency, is resisting Freedom of Information (FOIA) Requests to reveal documents that the NIH is required to publish under the Federal Ethics In Government Act. What reason did the NIH use to refuse the request?  They claimed that these documents, documents mandated by Federal statute to reveal conflicts of interest by high Federal officials, were being withheld because they would be an "unwarranted invasion of privacy" of those officials.  (I wonder what the US tax authority, the IRS, would say if taxpayers were to use that excuse to withhold their tax forms?) Second we see a letter from a commissioner of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking ICANN to be... Juxtaposition
  163. ICANN And Its Approval Of The .EU TLD March 22 2005 You would think that such a major event - the approval of a new TLD (.eu) and the recognition of a new political entity - would have been done in the light of day.  But no, as is typical the news sort of oozed out - and oozed not out of ICANN which so far has no notice of the decision on its web site, but rather out of the .eu folks. ICANN, "staff" probably suddenly slopped the question onto a plate, put it in front of the board as a last-minute surprise agenda item, and the board probably dutifully came to attention, saluted, and swallowed. Was .eu deserved?  Perhaps.  Was the board debate, if it even occurred, visible to the public?  No. Now that many European countries, members of .eu, now have two ccTLDs to work under will other federations of states be given the same ability to have... ICANN And Its Approval Of The .EU TLD
  164. ICANN Levies Increases Its Internet Tax Rate March 24 2005 It has been noticed that in Section 7.2(c) of each of ICANN's latest round of registry contracts that the per-domain name fee is now $2 per name per year. One can only wonder when this new rate lands on the existing registries. Two dollars per name is a seriously heavy tax on use of the internet.  When measured as a percentage of the actual cost of providing the underlying service this tax verges on the obscene. And those who pay the tax - the community of internet users - have no representation in ICANN.... ICANN Levies Increases Its Internet Tax Rate
  165. ICANN's Two-Bit Answer to A Twenty Dollar Question. March 28 2005 My comments on ICANN's Core Principles and Corporate Governance Guidelines The oath at the bottom is contrary to the obligations imposed as a matter of law on Directors to make independent judgements. As a director I sued ICANN on exactly this kind of unlawful restriction - and I won. See the file at: These principles unlawfully restrict the Directors individually and as a body from properly exercising their obligations.  On this basis alone these "principles" are fatally flawed. In addition many of these "principles" have nothing to do with corporate governance and, instead, amount to a kind of kow-tow procedure through which the Board, and the individual directors, reduce themselves to a subservient status vis-a-vis the corporate management.  That is the obverse of what corporate governance is all about. Overall, this document is unacceptable.  The principles are naive and demonstrate a lack of adequate appreciation of the proper and... ICANN's Two-Bit Answer to A Twenty Dollar Question.
  166. Stickin' It To the Copyright Bullies Where It Hurts Most March 28 2005 Tomorrow the MGM v Grokster  case goes before the US Supreme Court. I'm hoping for a rememberance that the purpose of copyright is to benefit society through the encouragement of creativity and innovation.  In other words, I want Grokster to win. But no matter what the outcome, there is no reason to expect the Movie Industry to turn off its juggernaut designed to lock up all digital representations of everything. So I figure that it's time to hit back and to do so where it hurts the Movie Industry the most - in the wallet. So here's the deal.  I want you to make the following pledge to yourself: I <insert your name>, during the year 2005, and during each successive year until the Movie Industry stops being a copyright bully, will refrain from spending my money to view three movies that I would otherwise have gone to see.  Instead... Stickin' It To the Copyright Bullies Where It Hurts Most
  167. NTIA, .us, Whois, and the Privacy Act of 1974 April 01 2005 An agency of the US Department of Commerce, the NTIA,  has decreed that domain name registration information ("whois") for the .us top level domain must be made available to all comers, for any reason, at any time. The Privacy Act of 1974 defines the obligations and duties of Federal agencies that control databases containing personally identifiable information.  That act may be found at 5 USC 552a (be careful about that trailing 'a' else you end up with a related, but entirely different chunk of law, the Freedom of Information Act.) The act covers systems of records - which section (a)(5) the act defines as: a group of any records under the control of any agency from which information is retrieved  by the name of the individual or by some identifying number, symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to the individual For purposes of the .us whois database perhaps the most... NTIA, .us, Whois, and the Privacy Act of 1974
  168. ICANN Versus the College of Cardinals - Which Is More Opaque and Closed? April 03 2005 A few years ago I suggested that we know more about how the college of cardinals selects a new pope than we know about how ICANN makes its decisions.  (My suggestion was picked up and repeated by Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts.) It is sad when anyone passes.  And the loss of a major world figure, particularly one with a strong sense of ethics and morality (even if we individually may differ on certain specific issues) is not a matter to be taken lightly. Nevertheless, such things do happen.  We now have an opportunity to put my claim to the test. ICANN is meeting in Argentina this week.  If anything ICANN has become even more opaque and closed than it was back in year 2000 when I first made the comparison between the selection of a new pope and ICANN's opaque and closed processes. Perhaps ICANN can demonstrate that it... ICANN Versus the College of Cardinals - Which Is More Opaque and Closed?
  169. Testing VOIP and SIP April 03 2005 I am here in the town of Banff in the Canadian province of Alberta.  The purpose of the gathering here (SIPit 16) is to do multi-implementer and multi-vendor interoperability testing of Voice over IP (VOIP) equipment that uses the IETF Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). I can't say anything about the successes and failures of the event here - like the TCP/IP Bake-Offs of 15 years ago and other interoperability events since then, the goal is to improve technology and interoperability and not to embarrass anyone about errors.  I can, however, say that my hope is to increase the scope and depth of the suite of SIP protocol tests that I am creating. I'll probably post some observations about SIP itself and my experiences with it over this coming week.... Testing VOIP and SIP
  170. DNSSEC - Will It Create A New Vulnerability? April 07 2005 I see that ICANN's so-called security committee has decided to move forward with deployment of DNS Security (DNSSEC [beware - may take a long time to reach if you don't have IPv6 connectivity]) in the legacy set of root servers. That's probably a good idea. However, I have concern that DNSSEC will then be uncritically adopted by the big (and frequently changing) zones - .com, .net, .de, .ewe... without answering the following question: How long will it take to do a cold restart of a name server if it has to load a large (e.g. .com sized) signed zone? It has long been public knowledge that a sucessful attack on TLD servers will have a larger impact than a sucessful attack on root servers. In many emergency situations the most pressing need is for fast recovery of communications services. So the question is this: How long would it take to... DNSSEC - Will It Create A New Vulnerability?
  171. ICANN's Directors Once Again Shirk Their Responsbilities April 09 2005 I see that ICANN's Board approved several resolutions concerning IP address allocations. Among these resolutions was one in which ICANN's Board unanimously adopted an "IPv4 Global Allocation Policy". IP address allocation policy is the most crucial matter ever to come before ICANN's board.  IP addresses are the fuel on which the internet runs.  Without an IP address a person or computer is simply not part of the internet.  A policy that says who can get addresses and under what terms has a breathtaking impact on the shape of future internet growth.  Such a policy will have a significant impact on what enterprises survive and what enterprises fail.  The economic and social ramifications of IP address policy vastly overshadow the effects of ICANN's domain name policies. Any policy regarding IP address allocation, therefore, ought to be made only with the greatest degree of lucidity and with the greatest attention to its... ICANN's Directors Once Again Shirk Their Responsbilities
  172. What They Won't Tell You April 29 2005 I see that ICANN is advertising for applications to its nominating committee. Isn't it interesting how ICANN changes its description of itself over the years?  ICANN's self description is becoming even more vague about the specific nature of its job, and the words "technology" and "technical" in reference to "ensuring stability" are becoming increasingly rare. ICANN has become a place where directors and officers seem to abandon their talent for independent thought and decision and become just part of a herd of rubber stamps ready to moo quietly and then approve whatever ICANN's staff puts before them.  For a body that is pulling several hundred million dollars per year out of the pockets of internet users, this kind of amateur behavior is, to put it mildly, extremely disappointing. I will repeat my advice from two years ago: Any person who is considering becoming a Director of ICANN (or any other... What They Won't Tell You
  173. The Computer Is Listening May 15 2005 I've been doing a lot of work with VOIP recently.  I have both hard and soft phones - all of them are computers.  All of them contain software.  All, to some degree, are vulnerable to being attacked or manipulated from afar. How do I know that my VOIP phones, particularly soft phones running on vulnerable operating systems (typically of the Redmond gender), are not always listening? In fact why should I trust that any computer equipped with a microphone isn't listening? It would be easy for a bit of spyware to turn on the microphone and record any voices it might hear.  It would be easy to compress those recordings and send them out amongst web traffic so that the transfers would not be easily noticed. I may be paranoid - but with the onslaught of spyware today's paranoia could be tomorrow's reality.  It certainly would be nice if laptops... The Computer Is Listening
  174. Yet Another Kind of Internet Thievery (YAKOIT) May 22 2005 I've recently come across yet another kind of internet thievery.  This time it is perpetrated against voice over IP (VOIP) providers.  The amount stolen can easily run into the hundreds of thousands, and perhaps even millions of dollars (US). This thievery requires that the thief be well schooled in the arts of national and international telephone regulation and the settlement system through which telephone providers pay money to one another for various aspects of handling calls. An important part of these settlement transfers is the fee that the destination carrier charges to handle the final leg of the call - i.e. the job of of making the called person's phone ring.  In other words, for each call the destination carrier receives money from the upstream providers, the carriers closer to the person making the call. Countries that do not have a nationalized telephone systems usually have administrative and regulatory procedures... Yet Another Kind of Internet Thievery (YAKOIT)
  175. Permanent domain name registrations May 24 2005 Steven Forrest asks Why Can't Domain Names Be Forever? The answer is this: There is no reason to prohibit permanent registrations. The idea that domain names must be rented is nothing more than an arbitrary and capricious business rule imposed by ICANN. See my note on this point: The .ewe Business Model - or - It's Just .Ewe and Me, .Kid(s)... Permanent domain name registrations
  176. Interesting T-Shirt Seen At Interop May 26 2005 This t-shirt surfaced, and then quickly submerged, at Interop in Las Vegas earlier this month.... Interesting T-Shirt Seen At Interop
  177. An Infrastructure TLD - Avoiding the Side Effects of Today's .net May 30 2005 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. So I ask this simple question: Why can't the domain names of the legacy root servers and TLD servers be moved to a new global infrastructure top level domain?  Such a new TLD would be intrinsically much more stable than .net.  In fact because the size would be small, a new infrastructure-only TLD could be readily cached and replicated, thus providing much... An Infrastructure TLD - Avoiding the Side Effects of Today's .net
  178. .XXX June 02 2005 ICANN approves new top level domains (TLDs) for the internet at a rate that makes glaciers seem fast.  So when ICANN does approve one it is a big deal. ICANN's most recent contribution to the internet is: .XXX - a top level domain for pornography. Wow. Is this progress?  Is this a contribution to human values?  Isn't the internet already enough of a sewer and a home for the worst that humanity has to offer?  Do we have to honor that kind of depravity with an official home?  Why should .xxx get precedence over schools, churches, civic groups, aboriginal communities, labor organizations, and artistic groups? Why .xxx when there were, and remain, so many other people who had so many better ideas that actually would contribute to the value of the internet?  But in year 2000 ICANN took $2,000,000 from them and stabbed them in the back.  And then ICANN... .XXX
  179. Reading List July 19 2005 I have two items on my reading table. The first is Bernard DeVoto's edition of The Journals of Lewis and Clark. (ISBN: 0395859964) The second is the Report of the Working Group on Internet Governance. I highly recommend both. The expedition of Lewis and Clark occurred 200 years ago during the middle of a major political shift caused by the American and French Revolutions and the Napoleonic wars.  It was a time relatively early in the shift away from national sovereignty as deriving from a deity and expressed through a monarch to a time when it was believed that nations exist and obtain legitimacy from the consent of the governed. The Working Group's report seems to mark the end of that shift. We are today in an era when the concept of the nation-state is changing in as deep and important ways as it did during the century surrounding the... Reading List
  180. The Power of Google July 26 2005 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 cliché 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:  There is all this noise about whether the internet should have one single domain name system (DNS) namespace (an argument more frequently cast, incorrectly, as whether the internet shall have one catholic DNS root.)  Yet, with the rise of a highly dominant search engine, Google, the policies and choices of Google have a... The Power of Google
  181. Ironic July 26 2005 I'm watching the progress of the Roberts confirmation.  Today the White House is refusing to turn over certain papers on the basis that there exists an attorney-client privilege between Roberts and the President. What I find amusing is this: The US Constitution does not define an attorney-client privilege.  Historically such privileges are created by legislatures that enact laws and judges who create common-law precedents.  Yet much of what this administration desires from its nominee is that he/she take a restricted view of what can be drawn from the Constitution. In other words, the President is using a principle that it imputes from the Constitution in order to seat a judge who will (it hopes) find such imputations improper.... Ironic
  182. A Twelfth Night Worth Seeing July 30 2005 I just saw Shakespeare Santa Cruz's production of Twelfth Night. It was an excellent production.  The acting and direction was first class.  Every part was well cast and well played.  The costumes were good - although I must say that the Viola's Cesario costume emphasized rather than masked the underlying anatomy.  And the set - it has to be seen to be believed. If you want to see one of Shakespeare's best comedies in one of the best outdoor settings there is - anywhere - I strongly recommend that you come to Santa Cruz and see the festival's shows: Twelfth Night, The Winters Tale, Engaged, and The Antipodes. Many people fear Shakespeare - high school teachers everywhere have done their best to make it seem distant and foreign.  But good actors under good direction - and Shakespeare Santa Cruz has both - make the shows accessible, real, and enjoyable. And... A Twelfth Night Worth Seeing
  183. About Those Root Servers July 30 2005 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. But before we begin, I'd like to raise the following question: Where does the money come from (and where does it go) to provide DNS root services? Over the years I've put together estimates of what it would take to deliver root services, and I've probably always undershot the actual costs.  The raw hardware for a root server site isn't... About Those Root Servers
  184. Responding to Steven Forrest's entry "The Tug of War Goes On" August 01 2005 This is in response to Steven Forrest's entry "The Tug of War Goes On" He writes: "ICANN has its flaws, but it has never shown a desire to censor and control online content." I disagree (not about the flaws but rather about ICANN's attempts to shape online content.) ICANN has, if nothing else, been the handmaiden of the trademark and copyright industries.  ICANN has stretched trademark law into an anti-innovative, anti-creative regime far beyond that of any law passed by any elected legislature of any country and imposed a quasi-judicial system to enforce that regime that is most deservedly worthy of the name "kangaroo court".  And ICANN's glacial and peculiar approach to new top level domains has been a boon for certain industrial segments and a death sentence to others. ICANN's shaping of the means to name internet content has been exercised in a way that is as anti-democratic as... Responding to Steven Forrest's entry "The Tug of War Goes On"
  185. Reprise on multiple roots October 03 2005 There's a lot of talk about competing root systems these days. So I thought I'd point out a note I wrote on the topic back in 1999. Most of those who are commenting on the matter are mixing two separate issues: That of multiple roots and that of singularity of content of the various top level domains (TLDs.) It is quite possible to have multiple root systems that are entirely consistant with one another.  The key to this is that the TLDs have the same content no matter which root system is used to find them: .com, .net, .ewe, etc would all have the same content. Here's that reference to my 1999 note: Multiple Roots are "a good thing" Update: I have tried to further clarify these matters in a note to the Politech list: Reprise on multiple roots
  186. Clueless Editorial October 09 2005 I just saw a pointer to an editorial in The Economist. I am getting very tired of editorials by people who, to be blunt, have no clue. The Economist editorial accepts the very tired, and very wrong, urban legend that "ICANN's work is .. technical". In truth, ICANN does practically nothing of a technical nature. ICANN never took up its role of oversight of IP addresses and has let that job fall to the regional IP address registries (RIRs.) ICANN does nothing with the technology of the domain name system.  ICANN neither defines nor applies any technical standards to the operation of DNS at any level. That tiny bit of ICANN that is, in fact, of a technical nature is largely a secretarial job, called "the IANA function", performed on behalf of the IETF.  Every other body that creates internet standards (such as the IEEE, ITU, and W3C) operates (and... Clueless Editorial
  187. Exclusion - The WSIS/WGIG is merely following in ICANN's footsteps October 11 2005 I see in several news items and blogs that some people are finding the WSIS/WGIG effort to be tainted because either businesses or ICANN's President are excluded from certain meetings. I wonder where those people and blogs were when ICANN kept people out of many of its meetings?  Why is the WSIS/WGIG considered so horrible when it is merely engaging in practices that are the norm in ICANN? Indeed, ICANN still has several meetings that in which the doors are locked against outsiders.  And much of ICANN's work is done, as it always has been done, behind closed doors by a secretive and closed "staff". In fact ICANN has gone so far as to lock its own directors out from inspection of its own financial records.  It took a successful lawsuit to overturn that unlawful practice of ICANN. Those who are complaining about the UN cite its bureaucracy, secrecy, exclusion... Exclusion - The WSIS/WGIG is merely following in ICANN's footsteps
  188. Time for Euthanasia October 19 2005 ICANN once had a vibrant public sector.  But that period ended several years ago when meaningful public participation in ICANN was eliminated during a process that ICANN, in its best NewSpeak, called "reform." Today ICANN's palace eunuch, the "interim" ALAC, sent forth it latest missive.  It is a pathetic document devoid of content yet filled with phrases of submission and dependency. ICANN's purpose is to serve the public, the community of internet users.  Yet ICANN's ALAC, and much less ICANN itself, remembers ICANN's purpose and ICANN's promises. ICANN's ALAC was crippled at at its conception.  We of the community of internet users have patiently stood aside hoping that perhaps we would be proved wrong and that the ALAC might actually grow into something of value.  During this time ICANN plied the ALAC with money and staff support.  Attempts were made to froth-up up membership; but few signed on. The ALAC... Time for Euthanasia
  189. Self Delusion à la Marina del Rey October 19 2005 ICANN is having a strategic planning meeting in Marina del Rey. Mind if I yawn? If its "Strategic Planning Issues Paper" is any guide ICANN will be wandering even further into the wilderness of irrelevance. As I have said many times in the past, ICANN has virtually nothing to do with internet technology.  ICANN's strategic plan seems hell bent on continuing that legacy. Let's look at just one of ICANN's strategic "Major Factors" - ENUM. ENUM is already obsolete; ENUM is going to fade away into the archives of good ideas that never quite made it big-time. I have been working with Voice over IP (VOIP) for a couple of years now and there has been a resounding disinterest in the VOIP community about ENUM.  (The Session Initiation Protocol, SIP, does specify the optional use SRV and NAPTR DNS records, but does not utilize them in the worldwide numeric hierarchy... Self Delusion à la Marina del Rey
  190. Forgotten Principles of Internet Governance October 22 2005 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. Its 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. Of course there are times when human practices deserve to change, but that change ought to be driven by human needs rather than being coerced in order to preserve a mutable, but ossified, technology. For example, consider the arguments over competing DNS roots.  There are those who say that there must be one catholic root... Forgotten Principles of Internet Governance
  191. ICANN's Unfinished Business October 22 2005 Way back in 1999 ICANN entered into several very important agreements that had the effect of gifting a huge economic benefit on Versign and an greatly altering the rights of then existing domain name registrants. That action was done in a way that was in clear and overt violation of ICANN's own by-laws. I submitted a "Request for Reconsideration" on November 17, 1999. As has been the case since ICANN's inception these requests were cavalierly dismissed by ICANN. So I filed a request that that rejection be handled by ICANN's then existing, but never implemented, policy for independent review. That request disappeared into the bowels of ICANN; in fact I can't seem to find it on their mutable web site. (ICANN's positions that demand "stability" of internet names are strongly belied by the rot of URL's into ICANN's website.) My request, however, still stands.  ICANN owes me an answer to... ICANN's Unfinished Business
  192. Who Really Installs New Top Level Domains? October 24 2005 This morning Bret Fausett wrote a note that concerned the question whether there is US Government involvement in the choice to deploy .xxx.  Bret's points are well taken but I believe they reflect the surface and not the substance. It may be true that the decisions are independent, but what about the actions that transform those decisions into actual changes in the root zone file?  Is that sequence of actions performed independent of the USG? To put it another way, the question is whether the USG is in a position to approve, reject, or modify ICANN's decisions? We have seen evidence that the USG is completely willing and able to bypass ICANN:  A couple of years ago the United States Government ignored ICANN when the USG had the root zone file modified to reflect the USG's redelegation of the .us ccTLD. Thus we have smoke - is there fire?  It... Who Really Installs New Top Level Domains?
  193. About That Settlement - An Increase in the Domain Name Tax October 25 2005 I'm very briefly skimming the ICANN-Verisign settlement papers.  I'm reading it quickly and it is late, so what follows may contain substantial errors. It isn't yet clear to me who really got what.  ICANN clearly got money (lots of money) and an increased bureaucracy.  The IETF gets to put the kabash on things it (whatever "it" is) doesn't like.  Versign get gagged but it also gets ICANN's promise not to pull the rug out from under it. From my skimming my feeling is that this agreement is like duct tape around dynamite - it feels like it's merely a temporary bottle trying to hold back a tremendous centripetal energy. One thing for sure - the community of internet users loses.  We get to pay more money; our internet taxation without representation is increased. And, as Appendix 10 and 7 makes clear, neither ICANN nor Verisign consider uptime to users of... About That Settlement - An Increase in the Domain Name Tax
  194. ICANN+Verisign == Fishy * 3 October 31 2005 There's something very fishy about the new ICANN-Versign Agreements: internet users get scrod three different ways. First we get scrod in the pocketbook.  Even though we get no say in either ICANN or in this contract, we, the community of internet users, are going to have to pay higher domain name fees.  The new built-in rate of inflation will compound at 7% per year on top of an already absurdly high base. Second we get scrod in the stockroom.  The new contract gives Verisign the explicit green light to data mine the domain name queries that hit its servers. You might be thinking - huh, data mining?  What you probably do not realize is that every time you enter a URL into a web browser, send an e-mail, or make a VOIP phone call the entire domain name part of the address goes into DNS and very frequently makes it... ICANN+Verisign == Fishy * 3
  195. ICANN Does Something Technical! November 08 2005 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 (pending approval by the ICANN board.) It's only four pages long, but those few pages contain a lot of significant material.  But as in all things IDN-ish, solutions are not easy (in fact, IDN is a particularly difficult subject.)  I'd like to hear the opinions of folks like Paul Hoffman and James Seng.  Paul H. had some negative comments on an earlier draft over at CircleId.  It's not clear to me that Paul's concerns have been addressed in the new guidelines. (Version 1 came out back in 2003.  I spent some time on... ICANN Does Something Technical!
  196. WSIS, ICANN, Hacking, and Functional Decomposition November 14 2005 It's been an interesting, and very exhausting, week - I spent a couple of days at a gathering of intellectual property lawyers in Napa, then three days at the Hackers Conference (as usual, extremely interesting, but we operate under a cone of silence, so no details), and this morning I had to come across the bay to Monterey - which, to to bring me to my topic, is a long way from Tunisia. Tunisia?  That's where the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is meeting this week.  From what I have seen there are a lot of flowery words that largely seem to be euphemisms hiding the difficult and harsh reality that some nations have more wealth than others. The internet is a core element of WSIS discussions.  And it appears from those on-site that the question of country-code top level domains (ccTLDs) has come to the fore.  As... WSIS, ICANN, Hacking, and Functional Decomposition
  197. Internet Users Lose Big November 16 2005 There is a lot of hoopla about the US "winning" at the WSIS meeting. While it may be true that the US browbeat its way to what it wanted, the result is a stunning defeat for the interests of users of the internet. There exists no body today that is watching over the internet to ensure that it continues to operate. ICANN does not do that, and the WSIS participants were not asking to do it either. The fact is: The internet remains in at risk. There is no body that is responsible to the public that oversees the operation of critical core resources of the internet to ensure that packets traverse the net from source IP address to destination IP address with dispatch and reasonable (but not guaranteed) reliability. There is no body that is responsible to the public that oversees the operation of the upper tier of DNS... Internet Users Lose Big
  198. BS? November 26 2005 Recently ICANN's Chairman was thus quoted: Q: Critics say the U.S. government basically controls the Internet. A: That's bulls**t. I'm sorry, I'm not supposed to say that to reporters, but that's just a very bad misunderstanding. Ninety-nine percent of the Internet is in private hands. If you've got a computer at home, and a cable box or DSL line, you own a piece of the Internet. Most of the Internet is owned by the private sector, by businesses, by ISPs, by individuals, by governments - well, that's not [the] private sector, but it's not ICANN either and it's not the United States. Rubbish. The Internet is like the sea - the vast bulk is not subject to any particular authority. However like the seas, the Internet has its Panama and its Suez; the internet has its Molucca Straits. ICANN stands astride the naming systems of the internet just as Panama, Egypt, and... BS?
  199. See you in Vancouver November 28 2005 I'm heading up to Vancouver tomorrow for the ICANN meeting. I hope to see you all there.... See you in Vancouver
  200. A View From Vancouver December 01 2005 This is the strangest of ICANN meetings.  Several registrars sit in the lobby making deals; other registrars are very angry about the Verisign-ICANN "settlement"; there are domain name owners who are equally ticked off about the same thing; there are the .xxx people wearing scowls, GAC people wearing deep blue, and often shiny, suits; there are trade booths (wo-)manned with folks who could be easily mistaken for trade show bunnies; a small number of board members pass through the public areas in as short of time as they can; a larger number of board members are unseen; and ICANN "staff" is largely invisible. Barely anybody talks about WSIS. But there is a lot of talk about lawsuits filed or contemplated. There is a lot of quiet talk about how .xxx was suddenly removed from the agenda and how a redacted Freedom Of Information (FOIA) inquiry indicates that the Bush Administration,... A View From Vancouver
  201. ASO Report at ICANN Vancouver - Looking Back to 1990 December 03 2005 I'm sitting here listening to the ASO report - That's the IP address part of ICANN, a part that ICANN has abandoned into the hands of the regional IP address registries (RIRs). In 1990 the IETF held its 18th meeting here in Vancouver. And it was here in Vancouver at that 1990 meeting where we did the very first calculations of the rate of consumption of IPv4 address space. (There was no IPv6 at the time.)  It is a story that is not well known - it isn't politically correct. The IETF is known for its "working groups".  And one very unofficial working group was the "TWG" - the Trollop Working Group.  It's first "meeting" was at the 1990 Vancouver IETF.  Meetings were held at several subsequent IETFs. The TWG consisted of an evening spent touring the host city's strip joints and usually involved the consumption of pizza and beer.... ASO Report at ICANN Vancouver - Looking Back to 1990
  202. Wasting Time December 03 2005 Yesterday was the first half of ICANN's "Public Comment Forum" - it ran out of time, people who wanted to speak had to limit their comments, and some people who wanted to speak did not get a chance. At least an hour of that meeting was taken up by "reports" - such as travellogs about cities where future meetings will be held. Today's meeting is also a "Public Comment Forum" - and we are now nearly 90 minutes into yet more "reports". What I would like to know is this:  Shouldn't Public Comment Forums be used for public comment and not be filled with "reports" (many of which are rather vacuous)?... Wasting Time
  203. ICANN Swag December 03 2005 Here at the ICANN meeting, there are vendors and interest groups - you can get "O" caps from, water bottles, and the like.  Although swag is given away it is paid for, it is not free of cost Vendors and advocates absorb that cost. But there are others who are inappropriately putting that cost onto the community of internet users: ICANN's Ombudsman is giving out ICANN luggage tags!  Wow, I can only wonder at the mentality that felt that ICANN's money should be wasted this way.  In this same room only a short time ago we heard ICANN's financial report in which the point was made once again that ICANN's financial needs always exceed its revenues. I'm sitting here listening to ICANN's ombudsman who is self-justifying his nearly absolute disengagement from deeply entrenched and long-lived ICANN's procedural failures.  I was amused to hear him recite, without attribution, something I... ICANN Swag
  204. ICANN Security Committee to Comment on Competing Roots December 03 2005 It was mentioned today, almost in passing, that ICANN's so-called Security and Stability committee will be making an inquiry into competing roots. Do you expect this to be a fair and impartial inquiry? Given that ICANN is in competition with competing root systems, might this report be rather more like General Motors issuing a report on the safety (or lack of) of automobiles from Ford?... ICANN Security Committee to Comment on Competing Roots
  205. New TLDs - What About the Existing Applications from Year 2000? December 03 2005 There is a lot of noise here at the ICANN meeting about new TLDs, particularly .xxx. ICANN tends to forget that there are roughly 40 other applications on the table. In year 2000 ICANN took application fees - $2,400,000 - from 47 applicants.  ICANN granted 7.  The remaining applications were designated as still pending. And they are still pending. When is ICANN going to give these people their answer?  They paid $2,000,000 for their applications.  ICANN's delay has cost the applicants an unreasonable amount of money; many applicants have simply faded away. ICANN has made a mockery of process; ICANN has turned TLD applications into an exercise like that described by Dickens in Bleak House - a process that may last lifetimes.... New TLDs - What About the Existing Applications from Year 2000?
  206. IANA Report December 03 2005 I'm listening to the IANA report right now. (By-the-way, the public have still not yet had an opportunity during this "Public Forum" to raise issues or ask questions.) I'm reminded of the difference between the IANA of today and the IANA of yesteryear. Several years ago - rather more than 10 years ago - a rather active member of the internet community got married. I thought it would be nice to give as a wedding present a set of his and her's protocol numbers.  A couple of friends, one of whom was on the IAB, decided to join-in. So we contacted IANA (actually we contacted the person who is IANA - things were much more personal then) and asked.  And we received.  We obtained a pair of rather obscure protocol numbers - the value of which was based on the wedding date. Somehow I suspect that that kind of gift... IANA Report
  207. Public Comments/Questions - Finally December 03 2005 Public Comments have finally begun - there's only 45 minutes for this, a very sad state of affairs.  The line of people waiting to speak reaches way back - at least 15 people so far. The proponents of .XXX are at the microphone - it strikes me that they are being royally scrod.  I wonder about ICANN's transparency - will ICANN reveal which board members agreed to change the agenda.  It is certainly a failure of proper corporate process if a single board member has the ability to usurp and change the agenda. I'm reminded that Paul Twomey the other day mentioned during a session that the 7% solution found in the proposed ICANN-Verisign contract was derived during conversations with the US government.  One has to wonder at the assertion that this contract was not a product of government intervention. Becky Burr is asking some hard questions about GAC processes... Public Comments/Questions - Finally
  208. ICANN Forgets WSIS In Record Time December 05 2005 I noticed today that the "real-time captioning" shown on ICANN's website at is missing the session on WSIS and what happens after WSIS. That session was transcribed.  It ought to be online, but it seems to be absent.  Is it there and I'm not seeing it?... ICANN Forgets WSIS In Record Time
  209. Bret's Sensible Approach December 07 2005 Bret Fausett made, as he usually does, a very sensible suggestion to ICANN. It is in rough alignment with a paper entitled Governing the Internet, A Functional Approach that I presented at the ITU's Workshop on Internet Governance in the winter of 2004. Bret suggests that ICANN unbundle issues that it has unnecessarily linked together.  I went further and described a reconstruction of ICANN into several distinct institutions of internet governance, each focused upon, and limited to, one single tightly focused issue.... Bret's Sensible Approach
  210. Revisiting the idea (the very stupid idea) of sponsored top level domains December 16 2005 ICANN loves "sponsored" top level domains.  It has given us TLDs for co-ops, Catalonian speakers, "professionals" (except for the world's oldest profession), travel businesses, etc. That world of "sponsored" TLDs is so exciting and vibrant!  And so useful too! So in a moment of unrestrained excitement over sponsored TLDs, I have come up with some ideas for new sponsored TLDs. I'll begin with ".family".  And by this I don't mean some neutered and sterile Disneyesque kind of family.  Appropriate residents under my .family would present content describing how families are created, including biological details, and methods for keeping control of family size (which would, of course, include those providing abortion services.) And then I'd add ".christian" (and other TLDs for other major religions.)  As sponsor I'd be able to say who is worthy to have a name under .christian and who is not.  For starters, I'd make sure that the... Revisiting the idea (the very stupid idea) of sponsored top level domains
  211. An Analogy: Europe is to the US controlled GPS as Europe is to the US controlled DNS root? December 29 2005 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?  Perhaps the European's have reason to fear that the US might use it's control over GPS in ways that promote the US interest but which ignore the needs of Europeans users?  Or might the Europeans simply have a better technology or feel that they can partake of the revenue to be generated by selling position services? It does not take any particular leap of imagination to see the European position with respect... An Analogy: Europe is to the US controlled GPS as Europe is to the US controlled DNS root?
  212. .VanNuys - Fast Times at Internet High December 29 2005 I saw in today's news that US National Film Preservation Board has selected Fast Times at Ridgemont High to be included in the National Film Registry. That deserves a top level domain (TLD) - .VanNuys. Huh? Well, in case you didn't know, the school used in the film is Van Nuys High School (in the San Fernando Valley part of Los Angeles.)  And if there is any high school that can claim the title of the home of the internet, it is Van Nuys High. VNH can claim as graduates Vint Cerf, Jon Postel, Steve Crocker, and, of course, myself. And yes, it was exactly like the movie.... .VanNuys - Fast Times at Internet High
  213. A Question On Claims of Executive Power December 30 2005 Our president has made expansive claims to executive powers.  I, personally, don't think that those claims are valid.  However, let me assume for the moment that I am wrong and that the president does, in fact have those powers. The question is this: To what degree are those powers vested solely in the biological person who occupies the office of the president and thus may not be delegated? We know, for example, that the president can not delegate his/her power to sign or veto legislation, just as a member of Congress can not delegate his/her power to vote. Thus, perhaps it may be that, in the absence of enabling legislation from Congress, that the powers claimed by the president exist only in the person of the president, and that perhaps the president might personally be able to go abroad and abduct suspects, personally transport them, and personally abuse and interrogate... A Question On Claims of Executive Power
  214. .dog January 06 2006 The top-level-domain (TLD) grab is on!  We've even got proponents of TLDs for cities. There's already a pattern of TLDs named after barnyard animals: .moo, .kids, .ewe, and even .cat. Where there's a .cat then there must be a .dog. So I here lay claim to .dog, the TLD for dyslexics.... .dog
  215. Sleazy DNS Registrar Practices January 15 2006 Today I went through the recurring, periodic ritual of paying bills. One bill caught my eye as strange - and after a second look it proved to be more than strange, it was downright sleazy. I have one domain remaining with Network Solutions - I had paid up for several years and was simply waiting until near the end of the term before moving it to someone else.  The expiration date is in December of 2006.  Note, that's 2006, not 2005. What I received was an invoice to renew the name - nearly a full year in advance of the actual end of the current registration period. Is Network Solutions that broke or that sleazy that it starts to send out bills a year in advance? Sheesh, the domain name business is so unseemly that it makes used car sales positively ethical by comparison.  Thanks ICANN for creating this awful... Sleazy DNS Registrar Practices
  216. How Top Level Domains (TLDs) Should Be Allocated January 18 2006 In the matter of allocating new Top Level Domains (TLDs) ICANN has transformed what ought to be a simple, objective, efficient, and inexpensive process into a kind of idiocy.  ICANN has come to be the modern counterpart of Dickens' Circumlocution Office (from chapter 10 of Little Dorrit).  To paraphrase Dickens: ICANN is beforehand to all others in the art of perceiving HOW NOT TO DO IT. So here's how I believe TLDs should be allocated.  The method below harkens back to what I proposed in year 2000 in my platform when I ran for the ICANN Board of Directors, back in those days when ICANN had actual elections. I would retreat ICANN back to a very simple role of handing out what amounts to "permits to operate a TLD in the NTIA root zone" and abandon everything except very minimal and strictly technical evaluation and operational criteria. Here's how it... How Top Level Domains (TLDs) Should Be Allocated
  217. First Thoughts on ICANN's "Whois" Report January 19 2006 I just glanced through ICANN's Whois Report - or more properly it's Preliminary task force report on the purpose of Whois and of the Whois contacts. Much seems centered around two different points of view of the purpose of whois data. But I notice a very glaring omission in both points of view:  Neither defines who is the intended beneficiary of this violation of privacy. Both formulations are ambiguous with regards to the intended beneficiary of the information.  Is the beneficiary intended to be the owner of the domain in the sense that publication allows the owner to learn more quickly that something might be awry?  Or is the intended beneficiary meant to be the person who feels somehow wronged or harmed by the actions of the domain name owner? How can one grant any validity to this report if it can not define the intended beneficiary of this highly... First Thoughts on ICANN's "Whois" Report
  218. Footnote 3 January 29 2006 Take a look at Footnote 3 in Gillmore vs Gonzales. Apparently a three judge panel of the 9th circuit accepts, and accepts without even a hint of protest, the proposition that the US is now a nation in which citizens can be compelled to abide by secret laws. Apparently the US Congress gave an Undersecretary (an under secretary, not even the full Secretary!) of the Department of "Homeland" Security the power to declare certain limited class of "information" to be "sensitive security information" or "SSI". OK, I'll accept the premise that "information" like the deployment of security checkpoints, the sensitivity of monitoring devices, or the energy yield of a bar of marshmallows, chocolate, and Rice Krispies might be appropriate to be kept locked away in some ugly Steelcase file cabinet underneath Pennsylvania Avenue. But some weenie in the Dep't of 'Homeland' Security shredded the law so badly that the regulations... Footnote 3
  219. Net Neutrality? February 09 2006 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. Voice-over-IP (VOIP) requires that networks not be neutral; if tiny VOIP packets have to fight against large HTTP packets for bandwidth and space in router/switch queues then conversational VOIP quality will be very poor and we may as well concede the voice game to the incumbent telcos. Maybe the... Net Neutrality?
  220. On Bret's Blog February 10 2006 I tend to read Bret Fausett's blog rather than listening to his podcasts - my six minute commute between home and my office is usually spent listening to the worlds best radio station, KPIG. But back to what Bret wrote.  I generally agree with him.  But not always.  And this is one of those times. Recently he has had a conversation going about the creation of new Top Level Domains - in Bret's case he tends to qualify them as 'g' for general or generic - "gTLDs".  I don't agree that that little 'g' is a meaningful distinction. While I'll agree that some early internet choices caused the creation of TLDs related to countries and that there are a couple of TLDs that serve internet technical functions (e.g., I find the whole idea that we have to know what a TLD is "for" or what it "means" to be... On Bret's Blog
  221. Sleazy Whois Practices, Part Deux February 11 2006 Somebody's been mining the whois database, again - and who is it this time?  Yahoo! Search Marketing. How do I know?  Because today a bit of junk snail-mail arrived from "Yahoo! Search Marketing" addressed to "Aggie Figueroa, Owner Cave Bear" .. at my home address. So - Yahoo is mining the whois database.  That's awful, and according to ICANN's rules, it is improper.  But we all know that one of the unspoken reasons driving the industrial groups that support whois open access and deprecate privacy is to facilitate data mining. But what makes this all the more ironic is that this bit of junk mail is from "Yahoo! Search Marketing" - their lack of competence shines through like the sun on a hot summer's day - their search and marketing capacity is apparently so feeble that they can't even get my name right when they mine the whois records.  Who... Sleazy Whois Practices, Part Deux
  222. It's Time To Eliminate ICANN's "Add Grace" Period February 13 2006 The domain name industry has become a cesspool.  One of the sewers is ICANN's "Add Grace" policy. Under this policy people, generally very sleazy people, can buy a name, have it go live, and if they don't like what happens, they can relinquish the name and get some or all of their money back. This has created a business in which domain vultures snap up deleted or un-renewed domain names, slap up an advertisement-filled web page to see whether there is a worthwhile amount of residual traffic.  If not they take advantage of Add Grace and get their money back. It's ICANN's way of subsidizing domain name churn and the underworld of people who want to make a buck off dead domain names. Add Grace adds useless expense and complexity to the domain name registration systems - the sewer rats get away not paying, leaving the rest of us who... It's Time To Eliminate ICANN's "Add Grace" Period
  223. What Could You Do With Your Own Root Server? February 13 2006 Sung to the old traditional sailor's tune: Way hay, an' up she rises; way hay an' up she rises; Way hay, an' up she rises; ear-lye in the morning. What could you do with your own root server?  What could you do with your own root server? What could you do with your own root server?  Ear-lye in the morning? etc, etc. Since I can't sing a note I'd better stop now. But the question lingers: What could you do with your own root server?  And I mean by this, suppose you had one of the [A-M] addresses? What could you do? - Probably a lot more than you think. You could make a lot of people angry; you could make a smaller number people very angry; and you could really hose a number of selected targets. Please read this note with a bit of humor - it is not... What Could You Do With Your Own Root Server?
  224. Disappearing Act February 17 2006 People are asking whether it is time to replace ICANN. Apropos of that thought here is something I said back in 2002 in my testimony before a US Senate committee: What Would Happen To The Internet If ICANN Were To Vanish? Much of the debate over ICANN is colored by the fear of what might occur were there to be no ICANN. ICANN does not have its hands on any of the technical knobs or levers that control the Internet. Those are firmly in the hands of ISPs, Network Solutions/Verisign, and those who operate the root DNS servers. Were ICANN to vanish the Internet would continue to run. Few would notice the absence. Were there no ICANN the DNS registration businesses would continue to accept money and register names. With the passage of time the already low standards of this business might erode further. The UDRP (Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy)... Disappearing Act
  225. IGF à la Bierce February 19 2006 I'm quickly reading through the transcripts from last week's IGF (Internet Governance Forum) Consultation meeting. I thought it might be useful if there were a glossary of phrases used in these meetings. At the risk of failing utterly and entirely, it might be fun to follow the style of Ambrose Bierce in his Devil's Dictionary. I hope that this will evolve and expand; suggested contributions are welcome. IGF à la Bierce: ALAC, n. A Potomkin Village established by ICANN to create the impression that individual users of the internet are actually represented in ICANN.  See "stakeholder". CAPACITY-BUILDING, v. The knowledgeable (and rich) undertake to train the less educated (and poor.) COORDINATION AND MANAGEMENT, n. Regulation. CRITICAL INTERNET RESOURCES, n. Any thing that has nothing to do with the actual reliable availability of the internet but which can serve as an excuse to impose a desired form of regulation.  Usage as... IGF à la Bierce
  226. NTIA, IANA, ICANN, and February 28 2006 The US Dep't Of Commerce, via its NTIA (Nat'l Telecommunications and Information Administration) has published a request for information titled Internet Assigned Numbers Authority What I wonder is this: ICANN performs "the IANA function" in response to a contractual-like agreement with the National Atmosperic and Oceanic Administration (!).  ICANN, via it's performance of IANA, operates the L root server -  If the IANA function is moved to a new home, does the L root server go with it?... NTIA, IANA, ICANN, and
  227. Friggin' Joe Jobbers March 05 2006 Of all the forms of spammers, Joe Jobbers are among the worst. Joe Jobbers are those who send spam that purports to come from real people.  Those real people, who are entirely innocent, get buried in bounce notices, get blamed and labeled as spammers, and sometimes end up on the receiving end of hostile phone calls from angry recipients. Joe Jobbers have been using my name for a while.  And now there is a Joe Jobber out there who is spamming the US Congress with sex spam using my name. Herodotus (b. 490 BC, d. 420 BC (approx.)) documented an appropriate punishment for Joe Jobbers: In Book 1 of The Histories, at paragraph 92, it is recorded that King Croesus executed an ill-doer by "dragging him on a carding-comb". Ouch! (I do have SPF records in place for those who are willing to check whether it comes from one of... Friggin' Joe Jobbers
  228. L Root Server and IANA RFI March 06 2006 A couple of days ago I asked whether the proposed rehoming of IANA would include the L-root server as well. Apparently not. I received the following reply to my inquiry.  Of course, this reply does not explain why this particular aspect of "the IANA function" should is different and otherwise not part of the RFI.  (My own guess is that NTIA simply didn't think of it, and when I raised the question they called Marina del Rey and asked ICANN.  And ICANN wouldn't want to lose a public-image plum like the IANA root server.) Date: Mon, 6 Mar 2006 08:39:31 -0500 From: To: Karl Auerbach Cc: Subject: Re: Question on RFI on Reference-Number-DOCNTIARFI0001, Internet Assigned Numbers Authority Dear Sir, The matters under this RFI do not include the provision and/or operation of the IANA DNS root server, L-root server. Sincerely, Brendon J. Johnson, CFCM, CCCM Contracting Officer U.S. Department of Commerce Commerce Business Solutions (202) 482-7401... L Root Server and IANA RFI
  229. My Answer To Susan Crawford's Question March 16 2006 Susan Crawford is interested in knowing who might be interested in operating a TLD. She's among the best of ICANN's board members, and I'm glad she asked.  Although my own belief is that she asked the wrong question - rather than asking "how many" I think Susan, and ICANN, should be asking why they erected and sustain a system that establishes ICANN as the once-and-final arbiter of who may, and who may not, enter the domain name marketplace. Here is my response: In answer to your question: I plan on doing a TLD. But I'm not going to pay ICANN one damn cent for it. I have a right to engage in business. ICANN has no right to deny me the opportunity to succeed or fail on my own merits. There is utter destitution in the idea that ICANN is somehow protecting the technical stability of the internet - the... My Answer To Susan Crawford's Question
  230. Internet Gambling, The ICANN Way: Using Someone Else's Wallet March 16 2006 Bret Fausett's blog quoted Stratton Sclavos (CEO of Verisign) as saying that every week Verisign's registry gets 7,000,000 name registrations but that only 0.6% (42,000) of those last more than 5 days. Wow! In other words, for every "normal" registration transaction there are 167 five-day speculative registration transactions (plus an additional 167 drop transactions.)  Thus for every normal registration there are 333 speculative transactions (i.e. one normal add transaction and 167 5-day add/drop transaction pairs.) And, it seems from what I've been able to discover so far, but I'd certainly like clarification, that Verisign receives revenue only for the "normal" registration transactions but has to eat the cost of the 5-day add/drop transaction pairs. Which, if true, means that the registry fee charged for each normal registration transaction has to cover the cost of 333 speculative registry transactions.  That's a heavy and unjustifiable burden. I have long assumed that the... Internet Gambling, The ICANN Way: Using Someone Else's Wallet
  231. Latecomers March 17 2006 I notice that a bunch of DNS registrars finally decided that ICANN doesn't follow its own procedures. Welcome to the club - you are over six years late to the party. I filed a request for reconsideration on this same subject in 1999 - Request For Reconsideration 99-4 That request was, of course, rejected.  ICANN rejected all requests without really answering them.  Like the Pope, ICANN is infallible. I subsequently submitted a request for independent review.  But ICANN could not get its act together enough to form its independent review panel; so my request languished and eventually disappeared. So DNS registrars - welcome to the club.  I predict that your request will be dismissed by ICANN.  Don't be surprised if you find that you must use the ol' 2x4 method to get your point across.... Latecomers
  232. ICANN's Strategic Plan March 18 2006 ICANN has issued its "draft" Strategic Plan. It is most interesting for what it does not say. First of all, nowhere does it suggest that ICANN is striving to be accountable to the community of internet users or to serve their needs.  Instead it is full of words about how ICANN is going to serve its "stakeholders", which by definition excludes internet users. Did you notice that the ALAC or at-large isn't even mentioned?  I guess that even ICANN has realized that the ALAC is a failure - institutional cheer-leading Astroturf is hard to grow. Nor does ICANN even begin to mention that it aspires to ensure that the upper tiers of the internet's domain name system will operate 24x7x365, quickly and accurately responding to query packets with response packets and doing so without prejudice against any query source or mining of the data stream for non-operational purposes. I wonder... ICANN's Strategic Plan
  233. First Thoughts On ICANN's Wellington, NZ, Meeting March 25 2006 ICANN has begun a meeting in Wellington, New Zealand. Nice place New Zealand.  But remote.  Has anyone noticed how many years it has been since ICANN has had a meeting in the place where it has its legal home, California?  Perhaps ICANN is afraid.  And perhaps ICANN should be afraid, very afraid - I've spoken to people in the California government and they are aware of ICANN and its ill and exclusionary behavior towards citizens. As a prelude to the meeting both Ross Rader and Susan Crawford wrote interesting notes on their blogs.  I'll take a moment and respond those those. Ross suggested that ICANN's GNSO is not conflicted because it represents all stakeholders.  I don't agree.  ICANN's GNSO, and ICANN generally, exclude the largest group of internet stakeholders - the community of internet users.  The interest of that group, measured in terms of the cumulative financial impact and in... First Thoughts On ICANN's Wellington, NZ, Meeting
  234. ICANN, NASDAQ, and Frank Quattrone March 26 2006 A while back, NASDAQ, a private corporation, decided to no longer do business with a private individual, Frank Quattrone, because that individual refused to disclose certain information about his business practices. According to today's news the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) tossed out NASDAQ's decision to bar Frank Quattrone on the grounds that NASDAQ did not honor Quattrone's claim of Fifth Amendment privilege. Assuming the accuracy of that news report, here's my question: NASDAQ is a private corporation.  The Fifth Amendment deals with a privilege not to testify against one's self in a criminal action brought by the US Federal government.  The Fifth Amendment does not apply to private actors. If the decisions of NASDAQ, a private corporation, in non-criminal decisions over its own membership are constrained by the Fifth amendment, then might ICANN's decisions be similarly constrained? I don't know about the relationship of NASDAQ to the US... ICANN, NASDAQ, and Frank Quattrone
  235. ICANN Attempts to Transform The Internet Into The World's Most Heavily Regulated Industry (Almost) March 28 2006 ICANN, a regulatory body that is supposed to ensure that the internet's domain name system answers queries, is instead trying to make the Internet as heavily regulated as the nuclear power industry. But instead of protecting safety or stability, ICANN seems intent of simply sucking as much cash out of the internet as possible, no matter how much that might damage innovation. We already see how ICANN is extracting a tax and a tithe out of every part of the domain name industry, and we see how ICANN is imposing its social and economic policies onto the internet and its users. Now there is word that ICANN is apparently looking at charging $250,000 (US) to apply for a top level domain. That's about 10,000 times greater than my estimate of what they should be charging. As I see it there is only one legitimate question that ICANN ought to ask:... ICANN Attempts to Transform The Internet Into The World's Most Heavily Regulated Industry (Almost)
  236. ICANN's Recent Report on "Alternate Roots" April 08 2006 ICANN's "Security and Stability Committee" (SSAC) just issued a report on "alternate roots"  [Note: The URL to this report was changed by ICANN since the original publication of the report.  Hopefully this new link will remain stable.] The best word I can think of to describe it is "dud". Remember ICANN's ICP-3: A Unique, Authoritative Root for the DNS from back in year 2001? Remember how ICP-3 was filled with hysterical language about how competing DNS roots would cause the internet sky to fall and and DNS caches be polluted? The new report from the SSAC quietly distances itself from those claims.  This is the positive aspect of this new SSAC report. The report, however, continues the unjustified and undefined claim that only ICANN can publish a DNS that is "authoritative".  And the report continues ICANN's historical method of using subjective social and business concerns as justifications for technical restrictions. ... ICANN's Recent Report on "Alternate Roots"
  237. Miscellaneous Thoughts April 15 2006 It's good that ICANN's GNSO has adopted a definition of the purpose of Whois that construes the purpose of the database as being merely for the limited purpose of making technical adjustments to the net.  This may redound onto NTIA (part of the US Dep't of Commerce) with regard to NTIA's obligations under the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC 552a) with regard to NTIA's privacy-busting regulations over the .us ccTLD.  You see, now that NTIA dictates policy for .us it's going to be rather hard for NTIA to continue to pretend that the Whois information of .us is not a system of records under the Act.  And the act does require the agency (NTIA) to conform the use of the information to the purposes for which the information is needed to fulfill an agency mission. Way, way, way back in another era I was offered a position as an... Miscellaneous Thoughts
  238. Fixing ypserv startup failure on FC4 April 21 2006 I noticed that on one of my Fedora Core 4 machines that has dual interfaces (onto separate subnets, but not acting as a router) that the ypserv daemon was not starting.  The logs contained messages of the form: ypserv: unable to register (YPPROG, YPVERS, tcp) connect from to set(ypserv): request from unprivileged port Here's how I fixed it: I simply moved the priority of the startup script so that ypserv was launched rather later when entering the runlevel. 1. Edit /etc/init.d/ypserv to change      # chkconfig: - 26 74 to be:      # chkconfig: - 81 74 (I pulled the 81 number out of my hat - I just wanted something that would come late when entering the runlevel.) 2. Then re-establish the startup symlinks::      cd /etc/init.d      chkconfig -del ypserv      chkconfig -add ypserv      chkconfig ypserv on Grumble, grumble.  I have wasted too many hours on... Fixing ypserv startup failure on FC4
  239. The ICANN Movie, Gone But Not Forgotten April 22 2006 I was just playing around today and came across the gone, but not forgotten, ICANN Movie (in which I have a starring role): Part I Part II Part III Maybe these ought to go into the ICANNWiki?... The ICANN Movie, Gone But Not Forgotten
  240. Gettin' Down and Dirty April 30 2006 I'm sitting here in the heat of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas getting ready to do battle with SIP based VOIP devices here at the iLabs It's always amusing to me to see the great banners describing how this Po-Bah CEO or that is going to reveal how the internet is going to evolve.  What Palantirs do they have in their corporate towers?  Or are they simply reflecting some marketing hype that is as grounded in reality as the "science" of geo-phrenology. For several decades I've been getting down and dirty with internet technology, often here at the show.  And our work here is not easily characterized as trivial - relatively few enterprises have a larger or more involved, or technically advanced, infrastructure.  Nor are there many networks that go forth and intentionally try to push beyond common practice and push multi-vendor and multi-protocol interoperability. When I... Gettin' Down and Dirty
  241. Day 1 - SIP, Network Neutrality, ICANN, and the Internet May 03 2006 Well, here I am again, for the 19th year, working behind the scenes at the Interop trade show.  Yes, that's me. This year I am working with SIP based VOIP, particularly in conjunction with firewalls, NATs, secure VLANs, QoS enabled wireless, and induced packet loss, delay, duplication, jitter, and reordering (and many other impairments produced by my Maxwell system.) We have seen some of what we expected: that NATs and VOIP live more in a state of mutual hostility rather than halcyon peace.  And it is also fairly clear that the quality that people perceive from VOIP often evaporates fairly quickly when network conditions begin to erode away from some laboratory standard of perfection. Simply throwing 50 milliseconds of bidirectional jitter on top of 50 milliseconds of bidirectional delay, coupled with a couple of points of burst packet loss, will cause a SIP+RTP/RTCP based call on top of a TCP... Day 1 - SIP, Network Neutrality, ICANN, and the Internet
  242. ICANN, Secrecy, And Gagged Directors May 11 2006 ICANN has never had a keen grasp of the laws that define how corporations work - I had to sue ICANN when it tried to block me, a director, from inspecting its financial records despite the law that clearly gave me the "absolute right to inspect and copy" corporate records. I won - it was a slam dunk, the judge nearly laughed ICANN out of court. Yet we now have learned that ICANN's current crop of directors feel compelled by ICANN's rules to remain silent until ICANN's staff collects, collates, and edits director statements.  This despite the fact that ICANN's staff held a press conference about exactly the same matter on which the directors were being gagged! Even those directors who are attorneys and who ought to know better feel constrained by ICANN's gag rule. It's time for ICANN's board, and its directors to get a clue.  I have long... ICANN, Secrecy, And Gagged Directors
  243. It's baseball season - and ICANN is striking out May 12 2006 Three strikes and you're out: A few years ago ICANN eliminated publicly selected seats on its board of directors and substituted a system in which selected "stakeholders" (mainly industrial segments who make money out of the internet) have the dominant positions in ICANN.  This made it clear that ICANN had no interest in serving the public or responding to the public view. Recently ICANN approved a new agreement with Verisign that not only confirms ICANN's gift to Verisign of perpetual control of .com but also gives Verisign a built-in profit margin of 25,000% - yes, twenty-five thousand percent!!!.  (This is based on the simple fact that for every paid registration fee of $7 there are roughly 200 unpaid registrations, yet despite this, Verisign is still making a profit.  This means that the actual cost of .com registrations is less than $0.04 while ICANN allows Verisign to charge $7.00.) Yesterday ICANN... It's baseball season - and ICANN is striking out
  244. Network Neutrality - There Are Other Shoes To Drop May 23 2006 It seems likely that through action or inaction our legal framework is going to permit telcos who provide IP packet carriage to impose differential prices.  That's sad, because it is likely that these price differences will be imposed not to cover actual cost differences in providing different classes of service but, rather, to hobble products that compete with those offered by the carrier. Right now we seem focused on non-equal package carriage on the part of carriers, ISPs.  We've not noticed that there are others out there who are equally able to take their pound of flesh out of the internet. For example, let's look at our old friend, Verisign, and .com. Verisign makes no secret of the fact that it is a for-profit company.  And were I part of Verisign I'd be thinking to myself, "how can we make more money out of .com?" One way would be to... Network Neutrality - There Are Other Shoes To Drop
  245. The ICANN of VOIP? Nah. May 24 2006 Steve Forrest over at Free 2 Innovate has picked up an article about Spider, a company that seems to want to be the registry of registries for ENUM. I guess folks who are wrapped up in ENUM have not noticed that the VOIP community, particularly the SIP community, are ignoring ENUM in droves.  I mean, why should I use legacy phone numbers when I could be calling something rather more descriptive, and more memorable, like a text string or what looks like an email address? In the VOIP world calls are placed using URI's - these look a lot like URLs.  (But trust me, they are really different, and more flexible than URL's.) ENUM was a designed as a way to let people call legacy PSTN phone numbers. But with personal directories (e.g. speed dial) and group directories, and search services, and all the other web-based technologies that everyone has... The ICANN of VOIP? Nah.
  246. My Submission to the House Small Business Committee's Hearing On ICANN June 06 2006 Here's a pointer to my statement (pdf, 7 pages) to the House Small Business Committee for tomorrow's hearing on ICANN. It amazes how people who ought to know better fall for Verisign's siren song about its vaunted infrastructure.  In reality what Verisign has assembled is a suite of relatively easily replicable DNS servers backed by a transaction system that is tiny in comparison to that of many banks.  The cost to replace Verisign's registry system and its suite of name servers for .com is really only a tiny percentage of the revenue stream that ICANN has gifted unto Verisign via it's $7 per name per year registry fee.... My Submission to the House Small Business Committee's Hearing On ICANN
  247. Taking .com Away From Verisign (and ICANN) June 09 2006 Most folks who are interested in this stuff have heard about this week's hearings by the US House of Representatives about the proposed ICANN-Verisign settlement contract. There has been a lot of discussion regarding the presumptive renewal clause. We should not forget that that clause came out of an earlier contract (one which came before the ICANN board when I still had a seat, and a vote. I voted against it.) But the main point is this: The US government is not in a strong constitutional position to overturn a provision in a contract between nominally private entities, such as ICANN and Verisign. So I've been thinking: Is there a way that .com could be taken from Verisign?  I believe that it might be possible. The starting point is this: ICANN has used the legal form known as a contract to convey to Verisign some sort of power over .com.... Taking .com Away From Verisign (and ICANN)
  248. New IANA, Oops, "operating unit", Website June 16 2006 So, IANA has a new website - too bad it doesn't even get close to passing the W3C's validator - 51 errors! But what I find interesting is the notice, in small print, at the very bottom: The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is an operating unit of ICANN It is?  Would it not be far more accurate to say something like the following? The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is operated by ICANN under contract from the United States' Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce.... New IANA, Oops, "operating unit", Website
  249. My Comments to NTIA July 06 2006 I've written up and submitted my comments to NTIA for their review of ICANN. You can see what I sent on my website at (It's about 17 pages long.) Update: A copy is now up on the NTIA website at: My Comments to NTIA
  250. Net Neutrality - A Case of Self-Deception July 18 2006 I'm reading the report on the Farber-Cerf discussion on "net neutrality". I am struck by the innocence and irony of the discussion - particularly Cerf's comments. It seems that Vint has forgotten that he is chairman of the board of an oppressive and heavy handed internet regulatory body that is most decidedly not-neutral. ICANN has established a regime in which just about everyone who wants to do anything in the domain name marketplace, whether as seller or buyer, has to do so according to ICANN's rules.  Those rules have crushed the life out of new domain name ideas and new domain name business methods. I, for one, strongly believe that that net neutrality laws are necessary to protect end users from the predatory practices of edge providers who seek to leverage infrastructures that were enabled, and largely paid for, by monopoly positions.  So I agree with Vint's positions. However, I... Net Neutrality - A Case of Self-Deception
  251. It's Show Time! July 18 2006 It's once again time for the Shakespeare Santa Cruz summer season. And as we have been doing for the better part of a decade, we will be gathering folks together at my place for a pre-show gathering (good food and wine). Last year's shows were fantastic - I was particularly pleased that my wife and I were able to be a sponsor for a particularly well done Twelfth Night. This year the main line-up is King Lear, As You Like It, and Shaw's Pygmalian.  There will also be a "fringe" show - usually done by actors of the smaller parts in the main plays, and members of the crew - which has always been a lot of fun and often more than a bit bawdy.  And a bit later on there will be the staged reading Dear Liar.  I've seen it and it's good, really good. If you are afraid of... It's Show Time!
  252. First Thoughts On EFF vs AT&T Ruling July 21 2006 I just did a quick read-through of the ruling in the EFF vs AT&T case. My first thought was that there is probably an order going out to all agencies in the executive branch to clam up, to neither confirm or deny anything.  In practice this will probably be done with vigor in accord to the long established principle of CYA.  So, if we start seeing people in Federal agencies who won't even confirm or deny their own existence or the that the sun came up in the morning, we'll know why. My second thought is that the Court did not address the most basic question - whether there really is a "state secret" privilege that can be exercised by the Executive and what it's scope might be.  I felt that the Court didn't really want to engage on that question.  I personally have trouble locating the precise Constitutional sources... First Thoughts On EFF vs AT&T Ruling
  253. ICANN, IANA, and NTIA July 30 2006 There's been a lot of noise recently about NTIA and ICANN.  In particularly there has been a lot of noise that NTIA might somehow cast ICANN free but that NTIA, and thus the US, would retain ultimate control of the DNS root zone. What, exactly might that mean? ICANN was, like all other private corporations, born only with what its incorporators (Jones Day) put into it, which in ICANN's case wasn't much worth mentioning. So, where did ICANN get its authority over "the IANA function" and the various top level domains and the IP address space? And from where did ICANN get the L-root server and what was the legal vehicle used to perform the transfer? ICANN has various relationships with the US government.  One of these is via ICANN's "MoU" with NTIA.  Another is that ICANN is the contractor that is tasked to perform, at no cost, on a... ICANN, IANA, and NTIA
  254. ICANN and Presumptive Renewal July 31 2006 I doubt that anybody on the internet, except those who hold stock in Verisign, thinks it a good thing that ICANN has given to Verisign the gift of "presumptive renewal" - in effect a guarantee of perpetual ownership - of .com. (By-the-way, I voted against "presumptive renewal" when it came before ICANN the first time.) The broad and overwhelming consensus of internet users is that presumptive renewal is a stupid idea. So what does ICANN do with stupid ideas?  Hint - fixing 'em does not seem to be on ICANN's list of possible answers. ICANN's answer:  Repetition of a mistake makes it not a mistake.  ICANN is proposing to repeat its presumptive renewal mistake in the Verisign contract by amending every contract, with every existing TLD operator, so that every contract contains its own presumptive renewall provision! ICANN will, of course, answer that they are merely encouraging TLD operators to... ICANN and Presumptive Renewal
  255. Looking Backward - Internet Naivete August 02 2006 I'm sitting here near Mendocino, California at the Heritage House.  It's a very nice place to get away and relax.  I've been coming here on and off since the early 1980's.  Right now I'm looking down on the waves of the Pacific as they break across the outer rocks and come into the cove. The nearby town of Mendocino is often used in TV and films as a New England town. While driving here we dropped a friend off at at her house up on the ridge over the Navarro river.  Doing as I always do I scanned the books on the bookshelf and my eyes landed on a book that I had read about but had never read - Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward 2000 = 1887. The book is the story of a man who, in 1887 goes to sleep and wakes up in the year 2000.  The world... Looking Backward - Internet Naivete
  256. Oy Vey! August 04 2006 I heard a really good one!  ICANN is asking for "comments" about how they could improve their web site! Have you ever heard anything so nutz?  I mean, ICANN, has created yet another "forum" so that we can "discuss" ideas - this time about their web site!  Wouldn't 'cha think that sometimes they might actually use their web site to tell us something - like promptly telling us what happened during those telephone meetings of the board?  Do they really need a "forum" for that?! We don't need no stinkin' forums! ICANN has a very bad habit of believing that it has to create playpens for people to discuss ideas.  Well thank you ICANN, but we are perfectly capable of creating our own forums - we've had 'em for years. ICANN's website should be a means for ICANN to publish information, like audio recordings of board phone meetings or timely... Oy Vey!
  257. GPL v3 and The Rule Against Perpetuities August 06 2006 One thing that has always bugged me about the GPL is that has a clause that allows escalation to new versions. There is this bizarre and old rule in law known as the Rule Against Perpetuities or RAP. Now, the RAP is often considered to apply only to real property - land. But the statutes that today restate, in statutory language, the RAP, are not always clear that they apply only to real property.  For example, here in California the rule is embodied in the probate code.  Now, I'm no expert in probate, and I have not researched the issue, but I do wonder whether here, or in other states, that perhaps, just perhaps, it might be possible that as we programmers die, our rights under the GPL might descend to our heirs and be subject to the RAP. And why might the GPL, in such a circumstance, be potentially... GPL v3 and The Rule Against Perpetuities
  258. How I Got Kicked Off of Craigs List August 06 2006 I got kicked off of craigslist. The only thing I did wrong was to want to sell some stuff fast - so I put a low price on the gear. Trouble is that some internet NIMBY's felt that by asking for a low price I must be some sort of scammer. The details are this - My grandfather was both a perfectionist and an audiophile - so what do you thin was the label on his gear: McIntosh.  So when my grandparents died, I ended up with a stack of vacuum tube McIntosh components. Now, this stuff had been running, constantly, for 30 to 40 years.  The insulation on the power cords had gotten soft, the chassis had corroded, and the pots were scratchy (yeah, I know that it's easy to temporarily clean a scratch pot - some contact cleaner spray and a couple of dozen turns of the knob... How I Got Kicked Off of Craigs List
  259. Me, Senator Allen, and ICANN September 17 2006 It's been a while since I've written anything - there are some good reasons for this but I won't bore you with that right now. I was just reading the news about Senate race in Virginia. And I am reminded of my interaction with Senator Allen during a hearing on ICANN. I was sitting at the witness table - with the microphones and cameras, just like in the movies.  The Senators were up there on the raised platform, looking down on us.  I was beyond nervous. I read my prepared statement and the Senators began asking questions. Senator Allen seemed to be there to look out for the interests of Verisign.  (Versign's DNS operations are in the northern Virgina suburbs of Washington DC.) At one point Senator Allen looked down on me from his raised dais, wrapped himself in the full Foghorn-Leghorn stereotype, and in his most condescending voice asked:... Me, Senator Allen, and ICANN
  260. Talk Like A Pirate Day - About the London School of Economics Report On ICANN September 19 2006 Avast!  This be talk like a pirate day! Me First Mate be thinkin:  Cap'n the packet from London arrived in town today. Sez I, Aye!  Fetch the longboat so's me an the lads, needin some grog, can go ashore and visit the public house. I sez: Me laddies!  Bess be the landlord's daughter, she be the landlord's black-eyed daughter.  She be a saucy and buxom wench, but keep your hands to yourself, we want no trouble with the highwayman. So I says to Bess: Bess, Grog for me laddies!  And a copy of the London School of Economics report on ICANN! And we sets into drinking and readin, and readin and drinkin. Finally me cabin boy pipes up: Cap'n.  Aye?, sez I. Cap'n they don't condemn the division of internet booty only to "stakeholders".  And Cap'n they don't clearly recommend a place for internet users.  And Cap'n they actually increase... Talk Like A Pirate Day - About the London School of Economics Report On ICANN
  261. A Note Back To Bret September 20 2006 I saw Bret Fausett's note "A Note Back to Kieren". My own feeling is that the question is not whether ICANN's nominating committee should operate in the open. (I do believe, however, that long as it exists that it should operate completely in the open - these are political choices being made, not employment decisions.  And let's get real about the name: this "nominating" committee does not nominate candidates to be approved or rejected by others.  No.  ICANN's nominating committee makes the first, only, and final selections.) I believe the proper question is whether ICANN's nominating committee should exist at all. Nominating committees are an example of ICANN's excessive paternalism - ICANN (and its nominating committee) implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) assert, that they know the public interest better than do the people who are the public. That's the principle of oligarchy - the belief that society should be governed by... A Note Back To Bret
  262. What Universe Are They Living In? October 03 2006 I see the news filled with articles, many from Europe, proclaiming that that the United States government is finally releasing ICANN. Nonesense.  The US Government is doing no such thing. In the 1950's the damning phrase (and book title) was "The Man who Lost China". People in the United States government are terrified of being labeled as the man (or woman) who lost the internet - it would end their careers faster than a lewd instant message to a Congressional page. And the folks in the present US administration view the US hegemony as a national security issue.  Not only do they believe that retention of control over ICANN is necessary to protect US security, but they fear the attacks that would come from their political opposition if they should do anything that could be perceived or characterized as weak on security. In addition, the new agreement between ICANN and... What Universe Are They Living In?
  263. The Rule Against Digital Perpetuities - A Reprise October 04 2006 I see from Wendy Seltzer that today (OK, yesterday) is (was) the Day Against DRM. That reminds me of something I wrote a while back - The Rule Against Digital Perpetuities: The Rule Against Digital Perpetuities: No Digital Rights Management (DRM) limitation or anti-copying mechanism may endure longer than the original copyright in the protected work. The Pledge: I pledge to neither specify nor standardize nor implement any system that does not conform to the Rule Against Digital Perpetuities. Sure, with the Supreme Court allowing copyright to exist almost forever, the effect of this might be minimal.  But consider what DRM technology would be if it had to self-destruct when it was no longer wrapped around a work no longer covered by copyright? And consider the value for librarians, archivists, and historians of the future if DRM mechanisms were required to self-destruct when the clock on the copyright runs out.... The Rule Against Digital Perpetuities - A Reprise
  264. Beyond Whois - Data Mining IANA Protocol Numbers October 04 2006 We all know about how the "whois" database is being mined by spammers and other scum. This morning I woke up to find a scam email in my inbox, nothing odd about that.  What was odd, however, was that it was very clear that this email was created by mining the IANA protocol number assignments.... Beyond Whois - Data Mining IANA Protocol Numbers
  265. Election Day - My Choice for Sect'y of State: Debra Bown October 22 2006 (You know that this entry is not about ICANN - this item is about voting in elections and ICANN has removed elections and voting from its vocabulary.) Election day comes on November 7.  Make sure that you vote! For me the most important race is that of the California Secretary of State.  And I'm going to be voting for Debra Bowen. Now, being a resident of Santa Cruz, the real "Surf City", I ought to look askance upon someone from Huntington Beach, the artificial "Surf City" that has brought trademark claims against Santa Cruz merchants.  And the current Sect'y of State is my neighbor. But Debra Bowen is on "the right side" of a matter that is of great importance to me - modern voting systems.  (I am on the board of directors of the Open Voting Consortium.) She understands the issues and is not going to be bowled over... Election Day - My Choice for Sect'y of State: Debra Bown
  266. I Have To Miss the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) In Athens October 22 2006 The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meeting is in Athens at the end of the month. I'm all signed up and ready to go - except I can't go. I'm having some medical difficulties that make it hard for me to travel.  (And given the current security paranoia I'm not keen on dragging quantities of prescription pain killers through airports and across national borders.) I'm preparing a couple of papers to send in my stead.  And I'll be online.  But I am very sorry that I'm not going to be there in person. Dang!... I Have To Miss the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) In Athens
  267. Answering Bret's Comment on .name October 23 2006 Bret Fausett's blog contains an item today about .name and its operators asking ICANN for permission to allow two character names within .name. Now normally I would not have any objection to the idea that a TLD operator can run its business as it sees fit. However, .name, like its six siblings of year 2000, got to play as a TLD while its 40's lesser cousins have had to sit for six years in limbo (with a $50,000 application fee for each of those 40 still sitting on the ICANN table.) It seems to me that it is only fair and proper that the .name folks be held to exactly their original terms until each of those remaining 40 gets its approval to be a TLD.... Answering Bret's Comment on .name
  268. Papers for IGF Meeting in Athens October 27 2006 I've written two relatively short papers for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meeting in Athens. The first addresses stakeholderism - a concept that I find extremely dangerous and mutually exclusive with the idea of accountable governance. The second deals with the question of how to structure bodies of internet governance.  Most people seem to be locked into questions of "what should be governed".  My concern is "how should we structure bodies of governance". Stakeholderism - The Wrong Road For Internet Governance (5 pages pdf). Structural Principles For Internet Governance (6 pages pdf).... Papers for IGF Meeting in Athens
  269. On the Eve of the IGF/Athens October 29 2006 Today (or rather, from my time zone, last night) the preliminaries got underway at the Internet Governance Forum in Athens. I remain totally miffed that medical necessity has required me to stay here in Santa Cruz. The big event was the GIGAnet day - which I completely missed due my brain skipping a gear and getting the dates confused.  This group usually has a pretty decent system for interacting with folks over the net. GIGAnet - the Global Internet Governance Academic Network - has nothing to do with gigabit, as in 1000 megabit, networking.  Rather it is the academic and civil society viewpoint.  And from what I can see it is where the really important material is being addressed.  I can say that from the notes that I've seen that several people spoke of ideas that resonated sympathetically with several of my own ideas. Dang, I wish I could have been... On the Eve of the IGF/Athens
  270. Boontling October 29 2006 I am very fond of the Anderson Valley, California. The largest town is Boonville.  It's a beautiful place.  (And there are several very good wineries in the valley.) They have a language there, Boontling, that was indended to be incompressible to outsiders. I just read Vint Cerf's planned opening for the IGF It would deny to the users of the internet their right to create their own Boontling.  Indeed the denial of such dialects in the domain name space has been one of the goals of ICANN policy. This is misdirected and assigns attributes to domain names that simply do not exist. I dealt with these widespread, and oft repeated (as Vint does) errors in my submissions to the US National Research Council.  For convenience I will restate them here. Vint alludes to a concept that goes under the name "Global Uniform Internet Name Space".  Globally Uniform Internet Names are... Boontling
  271. Opening Ceremonies at IGF October 30 2006 I'm watching the video feed (English version) from the opening ceremony of the IGF.  The audio and video are of good quality. I hear that nearly half of the attendees couldn't get a pass to go into the meeting room - 800 seats for 1400 people.  There seems to be grumbling abut the fairness of the system used to decide who got passes. From the video I can see several things.  First is that the camera man is, indeed, a man - his eye (and camera) seem drawn to the younger women sitting in the audience as well as a group sitting at a table on the side of the room.  Second is that the number of people dressed in suits is rather larger than at ICANN meetings, and much larger than at IETF meetings - but about the same as at meetings of the California Intellectual property bar. There... Opening Ceremonies at IGF
  272. ICANN Hires Karl Rove October 30 2006 No, ICANN didn't really hire Karl Rove.  But they must have a Rove wannabe somewhere in their ever ramifying staff. ICANN, obviously reaching for ways to self-applaud itself, issued a press release with the title Greek and Egyptian Governments Applaud ICANN's Move Toward Autonomy If anyone bothers to read ICANN's agreements with NTIA and other agencies of the US Government it is abundantly clear that ICANN is as much a puppet of the USG as it ever was. Perhaps the diplomats of some countries no longer practice Realpolitik and, as do many in this world of internet governance, see the world through very rose colored glasses. Or perhaps they were merely smoothly sliding over a difficult issue with a layer of oleaginous diplo-speak.... ICANN Hires Karl Rove
  273. Once More Into The Breach - ICANN's New Strategic Plan November 14 2006 ICANN has just published this: ICANN Posts Draft Version of the 2007-2010 Strategic Plan for Comment So I revised my ICANN Mission Statement Generator. I consider it a fair question whether my generator produces the more accurate ICANN strategic objectives.... Once More Into The Breach - ICANN's New Strategic Plan
  274. Democracy Depends on This?! November 14 2006 I spent the last few days at a conference of hackers.  (It's run under a cone of silence so I won't say more about who was there or what transpired.) I took along a functional Diebold TS voting machine. Our goal is to neither copy nor penetrate nor examine the Diebold software in the machine.  Instead we are planning on replacing that code, in its entirety, with inspectable and open source components. When I got there I realized that I forgotten to bring a mini-bar key with me so that I could open the locks.  But with the help of a couple of metal twigs and a couple of seconds of wiggling, the lock was opened. Sheesh, I would have expected a rather more substantial lock from a company that builds bank vaults.... Democracy Depends on This?!
  275. Interim? A Permanent State of Affairs November 14 2006 ICANN loves euphemisms - for example it has a "Nominating Committee".  But it is a committee that does not nominate.  It selects. So, what has this "nominating" committee done for the community of internet users lately? It picked two people to sit on the "Interim At-Large Advisory Committee" Interim? Yup, after nearly half a decade of operation, ICANN's substitute for public elections, and even for a place for the public, in ICANN remains "interim". It is long past time when the ALAC turkey should have been abandoned as an abject failure.  But ICANN keeps pumping away in hopes that the ALAC will come to life in some ICANN-Pygmalion fantasy.... Interim? A Permanent State of Affairs
  276. Six Years Of ICANN Delay And Unjustified Retention of $2,000,000 November 17 2006 It was six years ago this month, in year 2000, when ICANN accepted nearly $2,400,000 to review 47 applications for new TLDs. ICANN approved seven of those 47 applications in an infamous, clearly biased beauty contest that was so overtly unfair that one very well qualified applicant with an innovative idea was rejected because one ICANN board member could not pronounce the sequence of characters as a word! Among the seven winners were several who are now asking ICANN for a change to their contracts.  ICANN's Board meets next week to consider these changes. I would hope that ICANN postpones these decisions.  For how long?  Until ICANN deals with the remaining applicants who have been waiting for 6 very long years and watching their $50,000 (each) application fees rot away. Those other 40 were not rejected, in fact they have been often reassured that their applications remain pending.  And when... Six Years Of ICANN Delay And Unjustified Retention of $2,000,000
  277. Kaboom! November 18 2006 Not everybody can say this: I have an H Bomb in my office. No, it's not the kind that goes "boom"; instead it's part of a set from a musical I ran lights on a few years back.  I think that it it adds "that special touch" to my office. It's over 7 feet tall, is built of plywood and painted muslin, and contains several light bulbs - it's really impressive when plugged in!... Kaboom!
  278. ICANN - Clueless November 25 2006 ICANN once again demonstrates that it is clueless. A moment ago I tried to submit a comment in response ICANN Launches Public Comments on Whois Task Force Report However, the submission email address is invalid.  My comments were rejected with the following: - The following addresses had permanent fatal errors - (reason: 550 5.1.1 <>... User unknown) (expanded from: <>) ICANN most certainly needs a 24x7x365 operational point of contact. Update, the problem is now corrected.... ICANN - Clueless
  279. Could Congress Abolish the GPL? December 11 2006 The GPL is based on a license contract that is imposed upon those who copy GPL materials.  Those materials are covered by a copyright that allows the author(s) to sometimes (but not always) say "no" to those who wish to make copies unless the copier agrees to a the license contract. (Those who think that the GPL is anti-copyright are wrong - the GPL is very firmly grounded on the concept of strong copyright and the power of authors to leverage that copyright to dictate the terms under which those copies may be used.) There is usually no actual meeting of the parties; the contract comes into existence because we tend to assume that the person making the copy agrees to the license because to do otherwise would be making a copy without the permission of the author(s.) The Supreme court has made it abundantly clear that Congress has very... Could Congress Abolish the GPL?
  280. My Encounter With President Ford December 27 2006 The news just arrived that President Ford has died. I once had an an interesting encounter with him after he had left office. It was sometime during the 80's - It was summertime - It was hot.  I was travelling from San Francisco to Washington DC. and for some reason I had to fly to JFK (New York) and then take the train for the last leg. It was a hot sticky day, a crowded flight.  It was late.  I arrived in a nasty New York Grumpy state of mind. I got to JFK not at all enthused about having to get to Pennsylvania station during rush hour - and for some unknown reason that could only be characterized as temporary insanity, I decided to go via the subway, a move that required me to first catch a bus. I picked up my bags, and headed out the door.  Nothing... My Encounter With President Ford
  281. Signing Statements January 07 2007 I am disgusted by those signing statements that our president often publishes when he signs legislation into law. Take for example the recent Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act and the signing statement. Under our Constitution the job of Congress is to say what is to be done and the job of the President is to faithfully do it. In signing statements our president is saying he will not obey his oath to "faithfully execute" his job. Instead he is saying that he has legislative authority that trumps that of Congress.  What hogwash.  If Congress enacts a law that says that the President has to dress in a clown suit when flying on the airplane (Air Force One) that Congress has provided (and which we taxpayers pay for) then the President would be obligated to wear a clown suit. Most of us believe that the judiciary should refrain from making laws... Signing Statements
  282. ICANN Claims Oversight of DNS Root Servers January 07 2007 ICANN, like all 501(c)(3) Federally tax exempt bodies, must file a yearly report, called a Form 990, that describes their finances and what they have done to continue to deserve exception from taxation. ICANN's year 2005 Form 990 is up on the web via (free subscription and login required). The form asks the following question: Q. All organizations must describe their exempt purpose ... Here is ICANN's full and complete answer: A. TO ASSIST IN THE DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT AND TESTING OF THE MECHANISMS, METHODS AND PROCEDURES NECESSARY FOR OVERSIGHT OF THE ROOT SERVERS AND OTHER POLICIES TO MAINTAIN UNIVERSAL CONNECTIVITY OF THE INTERNET. Yes, you read it right, ICANN is claiming that it is involved with oversight of the DNS root servers.  That is flat out false.  About the most that ICANN does is to talk to root server operators on occasion.  But if that minor level of talking... ICANN Claims Oversight of DNS Root Servers
  283. Internet Zombies January 08 2007 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.  Yet, on the opposite side we have both mental and empirical tests (real software running on real computers) that show that DNS roots can readily hold and handle millions upon millions of TLDs.  No one has demonstrated a concrete upper limit. As a practical matter, it is likely that administrative overhead and risks of human and procedural error will be the limiting factor.  But that would be a very soft limit, and the numbers of top level domains would still... Internet Zombies
  284. EFF, Linking, and Drugs With Side Effects January 09 2007 I saw the press release from EFF today regarding their defense of a person who linked from a web blog to an "internal" document by the producer of a prescription drug. I don't know the case or its merits, although I generally believe that the EFF stands on the right side of most things. My own feeling is that the drug producers simply do not publish adequate information for physicians or patients to evaluate the benefits and risks. I had a recent very bad experience with a prescription drug - Cymbalta (duloxetine hydrochloride). This drug is often prescribed as an antidepressant.  It is also prescribed for neuropathic pain.  It's "on label" use is for diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain, but physicians are able to-, and do-, prescribe it for other kinds of neuropathic pain, although that is "off label" (and insurance companies often use that as an excuse to avoid paying... EFF, Linking, and Drugs With Side Effects
  285. Junk Networking January 29 2007 We are remodelling our kitchen - we are now three months into chaos.  For various reasons we decided to take temporary residence (refuge?) in a house we rented on the beach. That house is serviced by a cable-TV based ISP, a very large one. I am appalled at the garbage quality of the service.  Anyone who wanted to try VOIP would find it impossible to comprehend the conversation due to the incredible jitter.  TCP connections stall and retreat into deep congestive backoff due to lost packets and the jitter. I noticed that the cable modem was blinking up a storm.  So I disconnected the NAT/Router and plugged my laptop into the raw packet feed coming out of the ISP and took a look.  Gack!  There were hundreds of ARP requests every second, there were unanswered DHCP queries, there were lost routers (some IPv6) looking for peers. I can only imagine... Junk Networking
  286. NTIA, Political Commissars, and ICANN February 01 2007 Now that our president has instituted a system of political commissars to ensure that all administrative decisions by administrative agencies adhere to executive political correctness one wonders what will happen to NTIA and its imposition of anti-competitive and anti-innovative regulations via its unacknowledged child, ICANN? Under this order, many, perhaps most, administrative decisions (which includes decisions not to act) will have to be submitted to, and approved by, a new "Regulatory Policy Office" run by a politically appointed "Regulatory Policy Officer".  In other words, just like in the old Soviet Union, the government will be seeded with political commissars whose job is to ensure that the presidential party line is followed. There is no doubt that under this new executive order NTIA will have to submit its decisions and polices regarding ICANN to the Department of Commerce's "Regulatory Policy Office" and its Regulatory Policy Officer. ICANN, and NTIA's policies with... NTIA, Political Commissars, and ICANN
  287. Bad Things Happen When Competition Is Removed From Networks - The DirectTV HD DVR February 10 2007 I live in a hollow in the hills; we can not get broadcast TV.  Our cable TV provider is awful.  So for the last few years we have been using Direct TV to receive satellite feeds. We've been reasonably happy with the service - that is until we decided to go to High Definition. The dearth of HD material is disappointing, and there are the FCC's stupid rules that effectively deny feeds of HD programs from the broadcast networks.  Neither of these are really DirectTV's fault. But this note is about what happens when a provider, such as DirectTV, begins to consider its customer base as captive.  It seems that we may be in for a lot of this as last-mile distribution systems - telcos, cable TV operators, and satellite providers - begin to feel their oats.  The recent attempts by internet providers to fight network neutrality is one aspect... Bad Things Happen When Competition Is Removed From Networks - The DirectTV HD DVR
  288. Netli February 10 2007 A few years ago an old acquaintance called me up and said that he had gone to work at Netli.  I went to visit and found the people at Netli to be imaginative and their ideas interesting. I recently heard about the acquisition of Netli by Akamai - I hope my acquaintance will be making a goodly amount of money. Part of what Netli does is to replace TCP with a proprietary protocol between what are, effectively, HTTP proxies.  This kind of innovative deployment of ideas is why the end-to-end principle and The First Law of the Internet are so important. However, there are concerns.  Over the years the TCP protocol has been refined through the addition of congestion detection and congestion avoidance mechanisms.  A properly implemented TCP engine will degrade the performance of its individual connections in order to protect the internet as a whole. TCP implementations that don't... Netli
  289. The ICANN House Organ Asks - and I Answer February 11 2007 ICANN has instituted a house blog - a house organ - sort of like Pravda during the era of the Soviet Union. So ICANN is asking "What does it take to run a TLD registry?" That's a disingenuous question. Is it asking "What does it take to run a TLD registry?" under ICANN's amazingly complex and intrusive system of business and price regulation? Or is it asking "What does it take to run a TLD registry?" in a marketplace that is free of intrusive regulations established, via ICANN, by incumbent competetors and outside interests who do not want innovation or expansion of the internet's domain name system? It turns out that to run a TLD registry under the latter conditions is pretty easy.  It is relatively easy to establish, or hire, a worldwide array of name servers.  And it is not that hard to build a registration system that serves... The ICANN House Organ Asks - and I Answer
  290. S'prise, S'prise February 13 2007 Yesterday we discovered that our new kitchen hood - consisting of a fan with a speed control, a light with a dimmer, and a timer - needed to be rebooted. Rebooted! Wow, a kitchen hood that can do, much less needs a software reboot.  That's pretty amazing. But not so amazing as this fact: ICANN's self-emasculating ombudsman has established a blog!  Against this, a range hood that can be rebooted becomes unremarkable. Is this blog going to be sequence of excuses?  If so, it has certainly gotten off to a good start.  Will it be a mirror of the ombudsman annual report - a glorified litany of trivialities leavened with excuses why nothing real was done to redress ICANN's institutional disregard for its own rules? And yet ICANN's own board members - people who's fiduciary duties contains an element of responsibility to consider the effects of ICANN upon the public... S'prise, S'prise
  291. Registrars and Customer Service - Three Comments - Part 1 February 15 2007 Bret Fausett's Lextext has a short note, "Registrars and Customer Service" that refers to two letters to ICANN's President, Paul Twomey. Later today (tonight) I will try to comment on the contents of the letters themselves as I think they reflect some important perceptions or misconceptions about ICANN and its role on the internet. In the meantime I'd simply like to mention that in the past letters such as these would have tended to be addressed to the chairman of ICANN's Board of Directors.  Not only were neither of these letters so addressed, they did not even carbon-copy the Chairman. I believe that this is reflecting a shift in the perceived locus of authority within ICANN. With the term of ICANN's Chairman, Vint Cerf, in sight, and with ICANN's Board continuing its passive role, ICANN is ever more an engine driven by its President. Personally I like Paul Twomey -... Registrars and Customer Service - Three Comments - Part 1
  292. Registrars and Customer Service - Three Comments - Part 2 February 15 2007 This is a continuation of my previous note, "Registrars and Customer Service - Three Comments - Part 1". One of the two letters was from Tim Ruiz of GoDaddy.  The gist of this letter was that the number of registrar complaints received by ICANN really was not significant enough to suggest that there is any problem with how registrars behave. The number of complaints cited was 10,000 during 2006. Sounds like a lot. Sounds like a lot more when we realize that it is a rule-of-thumb of marketing and sales that for every customer complaint there are nine more who are angry but silent. And it sounds like a lot more when we realize that a large number of domain name consumers are professional monetizers who are probably in bed with, or at least in the bedroom with, the registrars they work with - complaints from this quarter are probably... Registrars and Customer Service - Three Comments - Part 2
  293. Registrars and Customer Service - Three Comments - Part 3 February 15 2007 This is a continuation of my previous note, "Registrars and Customer Service - Three Comments - Part 1". One of the two letters was from David Maher of PIR, the registry handling .org. I have great respect for David Maher - he's one of the "white hats".  But in this instance I believe he is going down the wrong path. Perhaps the most important sentence of his letter was this: While I recognize that the registrar function is best served by a competitive business model, the Internet has become too important to all its users to allow pure competition to set the standards for customer service. When it comes to domain names under ICANN we have never ever had a "competitive business model". What we have had is a highly regulated marketplace in which there is little real choice between domain name products - ICANN has dictated many of the... Registrars and Customer Service - Three Comments - Part 3
  294. Beware the Tactyldactyl! February 16 2007 The Tactyldactyl (also spelled by those who can't spell as tactildactyl) is a large bird - prehistoric in size.  Everyone agrees that Tactyldactyls are brightly colored, but no one seems to be able to say what the colors are.  Perhaps every Tactyldactyl is a different color and pattern?  And their cry, seldom heard, is said to be something between that of a Loon and a cat's purr. Flying alone or in groups, Tactyldactyls watch for unsuspecting prey.  They are particularly fond of children, especially grumpy children who won't share their toys with their friends. Tactyldactyls have a most unique form of attack:  The Tactyldactyl silently swoops down, often during bright sunlight, and tickles its victims into submission.  Once satiated on its victim's laughter the Tactyldactly flies back to its lair.  The victims always recover and usually look forward to another visit from the Tactyldactyl. Tactyldactyls are rarely seen; most senior... Beware the Tactyldactyl!
  295. ICANN Does It Right February 22 2007 ICANN has responded to the Registerfly mess with a 15 day notice else lose accreditation. As long as ICANN is acting as an advocate for the community of internet users it is good to see it actually taking positive steps such as this one. But compare this strong and constructive response of ICANN's VP of Services with the way that ICANN's "ombudsman" cowered when the same issues were raised at an earlier date.... ICANN Does It Right
  296. ICANN's DNS Attack Fact Sheet March 09 2007 It is good that ICANN has prepared a "fact sheet" about the recent attacks on DNS root servers.  Personally I would have preferred something with a lot more technical substance and less of a tutorial, but this is a lot better than nothing. However, there are a couple of points to note. First, and most importantly, by publishing this document ICANN is implicitly making a statement that ICANN has something to do with the technical stability and robustness of the primary system of DNS roots.  Much as many at ICANN might want to believe that such is the case, in reality ICANN has divorced itself from such matters and they have fallen, by default, to the independent root server operators. In other words, when it comes to the actual operational technical reliability and security of root layer DNS, ICANN is a mere observer not a principal. Second is that the... ICANN's DNS Attack Fact Sheet
  297. Are We Slowly Losing Control of the Internet? March 09 2007 I have long been intrigued by the question of how do we turn the internet into a lifeline grade infrastructure.  (See, for example my presentation From Barnstorming to Boeing - Transforming the Internet Into a Lifeline Utility (powerpoint) [with speakers notes - Adobe Acrobat format].) 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.  For example, even something as small and foreseeable as a typo in someone's name or SSN number during a medical visit can generate months of grief when dealing with insurance companies. 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... Are We Slowly Losing Control of the Internet?
  298. New ICANN Logo March 27 2007 Have you noticed that ICANN's logo is confusingly similar to that of the San Jose International Airport? Dazed and confused travellers must arrive daily at ICANN in Marina del Rey thinking that they are at the San Jose Airport. In order to prevent this trademark travesty ICANN ought to change its logo. I suggest that ICANN adopt a sketch of the Laocoon, a very famous classical sculpture housed in the Vatican museum in Rome. The sculpture depicts Laocoon, who is famous for warning the Trojans to beware of the Trojan Horse, and his two sons being squeezed and strangeled by a pair of serpents sent by Poseidon who, favoring the Greeks over the Trojans, was angered that his side's secret plan was being endangered. In ICANN's case, the primary figure represents Imagination and the two sons would be Innovation and Enterprise.  The two serpents represent ICANN's primary beneficiaries: the domain... New ICANN Logo
  299. Special Circumstances My Foot March 27 2007 The "whois" system for domain names is the single greatest violation of privacy rights on the internet. A reasonable cure has been put forth that would require only that domain name registrants designate a contact, who could be an agent, to receive communications pertaining to the technical operation of the domain.  This is not unlike the way that corporations keep much of their structure private by designating an agent for the receipt of legal notices.  ICANN and Verisign both do this. The industry that protects intellectual property (not to be confused with the industry that creates intellectual property) does not like this proposal; they would prefer that every person go naked on the internet, with their names and numbers tattooed to their chests, and live in glass houses. The trademark industry wants domain name registrants to reveal their information, and that of their families and children, to the anonymous predators... Special Circumstances My Foot
  300. Not In Lisbon March 27 2007 Clearly I am not in Lisbon at YAIM - Yet Another ICANN Meeting. Instead I am sitting (or rather, I was sitting a few hours ago) on a California beach, at the mouth of the Big Sur River, doing nothing at all.  Very, very nice. It would be nice if ICANN were to hold a meeting in the place where it chose to have its legal existance.... Not In Lisbon
  301. Disscussing ICANN's Legal Form March 29 2007 I've been chatting with others about ICANN current and future legal structure over on Susan Crawford's blog .... Disscussing ICANN's Legal Form
  302. Putting Some Circuit Breakers Into DNS To Protect The Net March 30 2007 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. What the bad folks are doing is to change the meaning of those domain names very rapidly, from minute to minute, thus shifting the control point.  They rapidly change the contents of DNS records in the authoritative servers for that domain.  They couple this with low... Putting Some Circuit Breakers Into DNS To Protect The Net
  303. Odd Drafting of ICANN's .xxx Resolution April 03 2007 Until this last week every resolution before ICANN for a new TLD was written as a positive question, roughly in the form "should we approve this TLD?" The .xxx resolution, unlike all of its predecessors, was written in the negative; it was in the form of "should we deny this TLD?". That made things very odd, and the transcript contains several interventions by ICANN's chairman to clarify that "no" meant "yes" and that "yes" meant "no".  Indeed one director, in explaining her vote got the two in reverse. By passing this resolution, ICANN's board voted to doing nothing - the same effect would have been achieved simply by not having a vote at all.  That's a rather odd way of doing business but it's a legitimate way.  However it is quite at odds with ICANN's past practices. Which raises the question: Why the change?  And the ancillary question: Who wrote... Odd Drafting of ICANN's .xxx Resolution
  304. Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah April 12 2007 Does it seem to you that ICANN has turned up the volume on the Marina del Rey Rhythm Machine? Recently I keep hearing ICANN self-promotions about how the ALAC is the el perfecto of public accountability and participation.  I'm half expecting ICANN cheer leaders, with pom poms and wearing short skirts, shouting out:     gimme an 'A'     gimme an 'L'     gimme an 'A'     gimme a 'C'... From the promotional noises you'd think that the ALAC was better 'n sex and a whole lot better for you than sliced bread. My advice for those who are considering falling for the hype - don't. ICANN's ALAC is like an invitation to stand outside the football field while the game goes on on the inside.  You can hear the noises but you can't see anything, and you certainly aren't going to get to play. ICANN has a big political need to make the ALAC... Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah
  305. 37 Years May 04 2007 It's been 37 years.  I have not forgotten.... 37 Years
  306. Yearly Fun in LV May 13 2007 Over the next two weeks I'll be doing my yearly stint as a team member at the Interop Labs. The labs are an open, vendor-independent event held during the Interop trade show.  This year we are working on the security and scalability of VOIP systems.  We've got an array of RF isolation chambers that we will be using to stress wireless based VOIP, we've got a number of intrusion detection systems, we've got impairment systems (such as my own - Maxwell and Mini Maxwell), and lots and lots of phones. If you happen to be in Las Vegas while the show is going on, stop by and visit. I've been doing this for a while...... Yearly Fun in LV
  307. The Show Begins May 22 2007 Las Vegas is a strip mall, a huge, ugly strip mall.  It begins with a very glitzy "strip" - land of the high intensity LED giant video screen - and ends with a hundred square miles of gas stations, middling retail, and cheap apartment buildings.  And it is hot - it's been on the order of 105 degrees F for the last few days.  And I can assure you that not everything is air conditioned - here in the convention hall during setup they don't turn on the cooling until a few hours before the doors are opened to the public. They gave us a suite in the Mandalay Bay, a nice place, with a much nicer place (the Four Seasons) on the upper floors.  It's better than last year in the pyramid where I had a room with a view straight into Sphinx' tucus. The show, Interop, just opened. ... The Show Begins
  308. I've Been Quiet Too Long June 24 2007 I haven't posted anything here for a while - I've been very busy. This coming week I'll be at the National Institute on Computing and the Law: From Steps to Strides into the New Age.  I'll be speaking on the topic "The Future of Computing, the Internet & the Law".  There are so many topics that I could cover, but I am going to focus on the increasing fragmentation of the internet.  I'm going to consider the End-to-End principle as a characteristic to distinguish between those kinds of (good and acceptable) fragmentation that result as a side effect of innovation and (bad) fragmentation that is the result of predatory action.  The idea is somewhat similar to that of a generative system as expressed recently by Jonathan Zittrain's in his article "Saving The Internet".  The distinction I'm trying to make is going to have a rough time surviving the assult of... I've Been Quiet Too Long
  309. Google Buys Verisign (not really) July 09 2007 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.  (Verisign could sell that data not only to marketing analysts but also to certain governmental agencies who shall remain nameless.) (For more information about what one could get from a root or TLD server see What Could You Do With Your Own Root Server?) Google just bought Postini - and one would have to be fairly naive to believe that Google does not intend to dredge through all of that email passing through Postini. So, perhaps we should not be surprised if my headline... Google Buys Verisign (not really)
  310. King For A Day July 21 2007 Our President invoked the 25th Amendment to temporarily put the occupant of the self-proclaimed 4th branch of the US Government onto the presidential throne. It would be hard for Cheney to now deny that he was, for at least that period of time, the executive branch and, of course, subject to the rules and limitations that apply to the executive branch. So hand over the documents Dick.... King For A Day
  311. Excessive Regulation July 22 2007 I noticed in the news that a new airline, Virgin America, is about to start flying. People can die when airlines are not done properly.  So there is good reason for airlines to pass through several regulatory hoops before they can fly their airplanes. Domain names are harmless (except in the overheated brains of a few trademark lawyers.) It is interesting, indeed it is appalling, that it is easier to get past the regulatory hurdles to start a new airline than it is to get past ICANN to start a new top level domain. I'm not a fan of Ronald Reagan.  But he knew a bloated bureaucracy when he saw one.  I wonder what Reagan would think of ICANN?... Excessive Regulation
  312. Naked Ladies in Abundance July 27 2007 It happens every summer - the coastal regions of central and northern California are overrun with naked ladies.  They seem to pop up out of nowhere.  Of course, I'm talking about the Amaryllis belladonna.  What else? And that means that once again it is show time.  I encourage people who like good theatre to see one of this summer's performances at Shakespeare Santa Cruz. As usual we will be sponsors; this year for The Tempest.... Naked Ladies in Abundance
  313. SUNW to JAVA, Oy Vey August 23 2007 I see that Sun Microsystems is changing its ticker symbol from SUNW to JAVA. The marketing dweebs must have taken over the asylum. Java is a decent language. But Java as a software production environment on Linux is a creeping, clunking disaster. It's bad enough that someone who wants to download Java has to hack through Sun's jungle of Java acronyms. For years it was made worse because on each Java version the file pathnames to the executables changed.  And there seemed to be an undeclared war going on between Sun's Java and the GNU java tools. And their Mozilla/Firefox plugin has always been a mystery wrapped in layers of incorrect documentation.  And it seems not to run at all on 64-bit Linux. Sun turned what should have been gold into schmutz. Sun's fumbling of Java is one of the great unheralded, self inflicted, marketing disasters.  Stupidity abounding.  It reminds... SUNW to JAVA, Oy Vey
  314. ICANN - Pygmalion?  Procrusteas? September 02 2007 ICANN has recently collected comments for yet another study of when, if ever, it will charter any new top level domains (TLDs) for the internet. It is bad enough that ICANN has stalled and stalled and stalled - for nearly a decade - on what ought to be a relatively easy task. (As I have written before, ICANN should merely validate that an applicant for a TLD will adhere to broadly accepted written technical standards and practices relating to the operation of domain name servers.  Anything beyond that is social and economic engineering, an area that should be prohibited to ICANN.) Of course, when it comes to ICANN, those who pull the puppet strings - most particularly the incumbent TLD registries, who do not want any competition from newcomers and the intellectual property protection industry - have an interest in permanently maintaining the status quo.  Consequently when it comes to... ICANN - Pygmalion?  Procrusteas?
  315. ICANN Begins To Add Yet Another Layer of Complexity September 07 2007 Today ICANN put out a request for a contractor to add yet another layer of complexity, expense, delay, and unnecessary bureaucracy to the ICANN's "new Top Level Domain" process. One can only wonder how the statement of work for this contactor was generated in advance of ICANN completing its new TLD criteria project.  Is this yet another instance of ICANN's "staff" simply doing what it wants to do and ignoring ICANN's board and the community of internet users?  There is definitely more than a hint of that smell. In either case, ICANN's new TLD policy has grown beyond all rational bounds.  All that ICANN should be asking is whether applicants will abide by well established technical standards and practices regarding their name servers.  In order to speed things along, I have taken the liberty of putting together the first draft of a form that ICANN could use to for TLD... ICANN Begins To Add Yet Another Layer of Complexity
  316. Have ICANN's directors placed their personal assets on the IRS chopping block? September 22 2007 At the August 14 meeting of ICANN's board ICANN's board agreed to cover the expenses of the soon-to-be former Chairman of the Board to attend the IGF meeting in Rio de Janeiro. That former Chairman will have no legal relationship to ICANN; neither a director nor an officer nor an employee.  Yet ICANN's voted to give this former chairman the power "to speak on behalf of ICANN".  Absent a legally cognizable relationship this power is a non sequitur, an oxymoron. And it could prove to be an expensive oxymoron for those directors who voted for it. I note, in passing, that according to the minutes the vote of the board was unanimous, 12:0, and that the person who is soon to be that former Chairman was in attendance.  Thus it appears that he did not excuse himself from this self-interested vote and did, in fact, vote to grant himself this... Have ICANN's directors placed their personal assets on the IRS chopping block?
  317. In Today's News September 26 2007 Today's newspaper brought an interesting reflection on the troubled state of our national government. The headline is "Copy of Magna Carta to Be Sold". The Magna Carta was born in year 1215 and it guaranteed many fundamental rights. Those same rights are among those that our president has trampled into the mire. This copy of the Magna Carta used to reside in the US National Archives. Now it is being auctioned to the highest bidder. It seems an appropriate, but sad, mirroring of reality that with the death of the rights guaranteed by the Magna Carta that the US copy should be relinquished by and sold. (By-the-way, the text of the Magna Carta has long been available on my DNS server, not my website, and available via simple DNS query.  And some people still think that DNS is only for addresses. )... In Today's News
  318. DeBushification of the judiciary - The early retirement bonus plan October 04 2007 One of the big tasks after the 2008 elections will be DeBushification of the Federal government. One of the toughest areas will be to reestablish the judiciary as a non-political branch of government. That will be hard because most Federal judges are appointed for life, until impeached - or until they chose to retire. Impeachment of judges, particularly when their offense is that of political leanings rather than truly overt acts, would be far more inflammatory than constructive. But there is another way: Early retirement bonuses. Private industry has long used the incentive of early retirement bonuses as a way to avoid layoffs.  The employer usually offers employees a substantial bonus - sometimes several years of normal salary - if they voluntarily terminate their employment. The new Congress could use that same approach to encourage Federal judges to give up their seats and create openings for new judges. Suppose Congress... DeBushification of the judiciary - The early retirement bonus plan
  319. On my way to the ICANN Meeting in LA. October 27 2007 The prodigal son of California Corporations, ICANN, is having its first meeting in its home jurisdiction since November 2001. It's good that ICANN recognizes its ties to California. I left Santa Cruz around noon.  The weather was nice so I headed down the Big Sur coast. Near Hearst Castle I came across something I had never seen before - several hundred elephant seals were on the beach next to the road.  Apparently they have taken up residence there. So, I arrived in LA - wow, I am so glad that I moved away - I don't have the stomach for the congestion, noise, and (perhaps from the fires) the pollution. Tomorrow (Sunday) I'll head over to the ICANN meeting itself. Let's see what's on the agenda... Wow, somewhere between one quarter and one third of all of the meetings are closed to the public!  Well, we have long known that... On my way to the ICANN Meeting in LA.
  320. ICANN - New TLD Policy - The Anti-Innovation Act of 2007 October 29 2007 I'm sitting in ICANN's new TLD policy session - the restraint of trade is enough to gag a Rockefeller. ICANN continues to espouse an internet that exists only in its own image.  An internet in which innovation and enterprise are forced to conform to ICANN standards of goodness. In other words ICANN is attempting to impose onto the internet a set of constraints that would deny to new innovators the creative rights - in Jonathan Zittrain's words, the generative rights - that gave rise to the internet in the first place. For example, ICANN's outgoing chairman made it quite clear that he believes that top level domain used for political purposes would be highly suspect. ICANN continues to require that an applicant's finances and business plans must undergo ICANN investigation and approval. ICANN continues to require that names be sold through ICANN accredited registrars - a requirement that makes utterly... ICANN - New TLD Policy - The Anti-Innovation Act of 2007
  321. Bad Day November 01 2007 Yesterday I was in LA at the ICANN meeting.  It was Halloween; a day in which symbols of death are everywhere and considered amusing. Normally I would have stayed, participated, and written about what happened. But, instead, last night I had to race home.  This morning my wife and I had to make an excruciating choice.  And, as a result, this afternoon a friend died. My friend is cat, Moliere.  He was almost 11 years old and came down suddenly with renal failure.  We had to decide whether he would live (a short while) or die. I held and comforted him as the injection was administered. I felt him die. He is dead; I am in shock. At least it was fast - only a few seconds - and it seemed to be painless, rather in contrast to the reported effects of the method used on humans. Yes, he is... Bad Day
  322. What would the internet be like had there been no ICANN? January 28 2008 Suppose that back in 1997 the US Department of Commerce, via its National Telecommunications and Administration Administration (NTIA) had not adopted, without any demonstrable source of legal authority, that hangnail from the Reagan-Thatcher school of government - the idea that governmental powers are best exercised by private actors without the nuisances of public constraint and public oversight. There is a branch of fiction known as "Alternative History". These are stories of what might have been.  What might have been had the British intervened on the side of the South in 1863? What might have happened had Khrushchev not backed down in Cuba in 1963? What might have happened had the Supreme Court not stepped into (onto?) the Florida presidential vote count in 2000? In that vein I am about to engage in a bit of alternative history. I am going to speculate about how the last ten years of internet... What would the internet be like had there been no ICANN?
  323. My comments to NTIA's "mid-term review" of its ICANN "JPA" agreement. February 06 2008 My comments to NTIA on "The Continued Transition of the Technical Coordination and Management of the Internet's Domain Name and Addressing System: Midterm Review of the Joint Project Agreement" are now online at My comments to NTIA's "mid-term review" of its ICANN "JPA" agreement.
  324. Comcast - Euphemism City April 21 2008 I am tired of Comcast continuing to claim that is merely slowing network traffic. When Comcast sends a TCP Reset packet the TCP connection instantly dies.  TCP Resets are internet ricin. The BitTorrent application uses several TCP connections, so it is somewhat robust against Comcast's TCP-murderous rampages.  But most other applications are not - a TCP Reset stops those applications dead in their tracks. The sending of forged TCP Reset packets has as much to do with "network management" as shooting a bullet into the head of a hyper-active child has to do with "day care". Is Comcast simply being too cheap to install in-band equipment that would do the the right thing, the thing consistent with the internet architecture: dropping packets while congestion is occurring and thus allowing the TCP connection to remain alive, albeit with reduced data flow?  One such right way is called Random Early Detection -... Comcast - Euphemism City
  325. Bea Yormark May 27 2008 I think it was Athol Fugard who wrote that the saddest words are "too late". I saw in the newspaper that Bea Yormark has died.  Too soon. I first met Bea back in 1981 at Interactive Systems in Santa Monica.  I remember her Mercedes - dark blue paint and light blue smoke.  And I remember one evening at softball when she was pitching; I hit a hard line drive that barely missed her - it brushed her ear ring. I remained in contact with Bea after she moved to Washington DC with my Gaithersburg based co-worker at Interactive, Justin Walker, Curmudgeon at Large. Not long afterwords I had my own romantic adventure; I became involved with a woman who lived in DC.  It was a very complicated and very stressful time.  But it was a time made much easier with the caring friendship offered by Bea and Justin. I later... Bea Yormark
  326. Serendipitous Data Collection May 27 2008 In 1969 the Firesign Theatre recorded "How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All" People who diagnose and repair networks have long experienced the truth of that title - no matter where you happen to be, the test data you need to know can only be acquired by being somewhere else. In my own experience at Wells Fargo in the 1980's I more than once had to run back and forth through the streets of the San Francisco financial district, often at 3am, to check circuits and devices on a malfunctioning network path. Telco people long ago learned to incorporate "remote loopback" and remote testing capabilities into their devices.  Internet people have not been as smart. Today's state of the art of network troubleshooting is a individual practitioner, a person who has deep knowledge and experience with the net from the bottom to... Serendipitous Data Collection
  327. Second Annual National Institute: CyberLaw: Expanding the Horizons June 01 2008 This looks like an interesting conference program.  Last year's conference was quite good.  I'd be there this year except that I'll be on my way to the ICANN meeting in Paris. The panel on "The Future of ICANN and Control of the Web" looks rather intriguing and, given the panelists, might cause a few sparks to fly.... Second Annual National Institute: CyberLaw: Expanding the Horizons
  328. Thunderbird 3.0b2 is Awful July 06 2009 It's been over a year since my prior blog entry.  I've been busy. So I'll start off with something indisputable - the latest version of the Thunderbird email tool (version 3.0b2) is really awful. This new version of Thunderbird locks up, seems to spend an inordinate amount of time loading and reloading mailboxes, becomes non-responsive to clicks, can't delete mail, and sometimes even refuses to close. This new Thunderbird is a big step backwords. It makes me pine for my favorite email tool, pine/alpine. Update, Aug 23, 2009:Thunderbird 3.0b3 is just about as bad.  It continues burn enormous amounts of CPU time, it continues to become non responsive to user input, and it posts far too many gratuitous messages that it is to busy doing something else.  The authors should be ashamed at how badly they have bungled a once useful tool.... Thunderbird 3.0b2 is Awful
  329. Questioning Authority – Searching For Stability In Internet Governance November 13 2009 Here is the text of my talk today (November 13, 2009) at the LTA Symposium at the the Center for Law, Technology, and the Arts at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio. Questioning Authority – Searching For Stability In Internet Governance Pre-talk – Who I am (one slide) Hello, I am Karl Auerbach. I've been around the internet for a very long time. If there is anything about the net that is constant it is that the net is always changing. Introduction A few months ago we discovered a hidden plumbing problem in my house. We hired a building inspector to take a look at the damage. He told us that the supporting structure was badly damaged, that it was at risk of collapse, and that we'd have to replace some large supporting timbers. Today much of our discussion has been about the more refined aspects... Questioning Authority – Searching For Stability In Internet Governance
  330. The ACPA and the Rule Against Digital Perpetuities December 05 2009 The copyright-forever crowd is once again trying to turn copyright into a card that trumps civil liberties, due process, and Constitutional limitations. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that is being "secretly" negotiated by the US and other nations would require signatory nations to impose a regime similar to the US DMCA, including Digital "Rights" Management (DRM) anti-cirumvention. Under the United States Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8) the United States can only create copyright rights if those rights are constrained to exist only for "limited times". DRM lasts forever. DRM will make it difficult, often impossible, to make use of materials once the copyright term expires and the material enters the public domain. DRM creates a perpetual right to prevent copying - a perpetual copyright. And DRM will make it difficult, often impossible, for historians and archivists of the future to examine materials even long past the expiration of... The ACPA and the Rule Against Digital Perpetuities
  331. Internet Epitaphs December 10 2009 Some ideas for epitaphs for the internet era: Her FIN has been ACKed. He's now a higher level abstraction. She has moved up the protocol stack. He is now a perfect packet traversing a loop free path of celestial ASN's. She has gone to the ultimate peering point. Her TTL went to zero.... Internet Epitaphs
  332. Network Neutrality, UPS, and FedEx December 24 2009 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.  A lot of us took advantage of that by sending almost everything using the lesser grade (and price) and often winning a higher grade (and price) delivery. I am sure that that that did not please the bean counters at the shipping companies. Today, with better tracking systems UPS and FedEx almost never deliver a package in advance of the delivery time for the paid class of service.  They will hold packages in their warehouses in... Network Neutrality, UPS, and FedEx
  333. What's Wrong With The FCC's Consumer Broadband Test? March 15 2010 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. There are several goals to which the National Broadband Plan ought to aspire: That consumers have a subjective sense that their use of the internet is fast and without unacceptable delays.  I picked a subjective standard here for reasons to be discussed later in this note. That reliability of consumer access is high and that the time for providers to detect, diagnose, and repair problems is low (and not expensive to providers.)  It seems that these matters of reliability are routinely ignored, yet... What's Wrong With The FCC's Consumer Broadband Test?
  334. Hackin' the SEC's Regulations April 20 2010 I see in the news that the SEC has picked up an idea I proposed way, way, way back in the 1970's when I was in law school, which was to express legal constructs using something resembling a programming language. Now, back then I merely wanted the ability to write contracts using a structured language things like if-then-else clauses and subroutines with parameters - a kind of glorified templating language. The SEC apparently has gone further and is considering expressing the dynamics of financial matters using the Python language in regulations. That reminds me of something I came across a very long time ago:  Early Unix had a blackjack program.  It could be beaten 100% of the time by the simple technique of betting negative dollars and playing to lose. Which is to say that unless the SEC is willing to engage in the very dark and arcane voodoo of... Hackin' the SEC's Regulations
  335. Making TV more like live theatre September 09 2010 I haven't done a blog entry in far too long, so here goes... What follows is an idea I had more than a decade ago. There is an old line: Theatre is life Film is art Television is furniture. There is a lot of merit in that.  Live theatre is immersive; it brings the audience and the actors together each reacting to the other; the degree of emotional involvement of the audience with the actors is beyond anything that exists in the world of film or television. So I wondered, way back in the last century, what would it take to make television more like live theatre. Back then I was working on network video - I had helped to start Precept Software back in 1995 where we invented IP/TV. Sometime before year 2000 I was working on fast cut insertion of commercials tailored to each individual viewer. I revisited... Making TV more like live theatre
  336. In a world of net non-neutrality we will need something better than the sockets API October 01 2010 I saw a thing on Slashdot this morning entitled Microsoft Sues Motorola Over Android-Related Patent Infringement What caught my eye is a Microsoft claim that it has a patent on "notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power". That reminded me of a long-standing complaint I have about the sockets interface used under nearly every networking application on Linux, Bsd, Windows, and MAC OS. The complaint is that in the sockets API there is very little advisory push-back that can tell applications to alter their behavior.  (The sockets API exercises non-advisory control by blocking transmission for a while.) This means that most network applications are not well suited to interact constructively with any of the net non-neutrality mechanisms that are arising. At the most course layer we need to formalize the notion of a "bandwidth broker". The "bandwidth broker" idea arose in the mid 1990's.  The basic idea... In a world of net non-neutrality we will need something better than the sockets API
  337. A Fun Poster October 19 2010 This poster was laying around my office.  Since it did not seem to be visible on the web I thought, why not?... A Fun Poster
  338. No Early Birds Here February 07 2011 In business the early bird catches the worm.  It seems, however, that in the domain name business that there are going to be a lot of uncaught worms. If you were starting a new business would you sit on your hands waiting for an approval that you do not need, pay fees that you do not need to pay, publish your customer list to the public, risk having hour business name given to someone else, and be required to sell your product through a distribution chain that you do not control? Of course you would not. But I see that there is conference this week of people who are doing exactly that - .nxt A Conference About New Internet Extensions. Don't these people realize that they can go into business today? That by so doing they can establish an early priority date for the start of use of their name... No Early Birds Here
  339. New Video March 05 2011 I finished a my second video - it's about being annoyed at the poor performance of a geosynchronous link from a cruise ship and what can be done to ameliorate the problem. It's sort of an informercial for our company - InterWorking Labs - to promote our network emulation and protocol testing products Maxwell and Mini Maxwel. Other videos from IWL will appear on our company YouTube channel.... New Video
  340. The Royal ICANN March 15 2011 I just walked around the ICANN big-top - that's the tent that is now occupying most of San Francisco's Union Square (with a rather phallic pillar - the Dewey Memorial column - occupying the center of the arena, punching a hole through the roof, and extending towards the stars).  This will be used for ICANN's "gala" social event tomorrow night. I wonder how much that thing is costing? Of course I've been told "Verisign paid $500,000". But would you think it a fair exchange if you gave someone $15 and they said: "here I'm repaying you with this nice shiny one cent piece?"  Well, that's roughly the same ratio of the benefit that ICANN confers unto Verisign every year and the amount of Verisign's "sponsorship" amount, i.e. about 1500:1. Basically, the munificence of this event reminds me less of words like "dignified" and more of words like "ostentatious".  Perhaps "corrupt";... The Royal ICANN
  341. My comment to NTIA regarding IANA March 29 2011 In response to: Request for Comments on the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) Functions My name is Karl Auerbach.  I reside in Santa Cruz, California. I was the first, and only, publicly elected North American director on ICANN's Board of Directors. I have been affiliated with the internet since the early 1970's. I have created Internet Standard RFC's for the IETF and have made use of IANA protocol number assignments. I have never understood the force of the argument made by ICANN that ICANN and the IANA function are best bound together into a single entity. Indeed, I have always considered the more appropriate path to be that of separation. There is essentially no cross-pollination of work or knowledge between ICANN and IANA except in one area: DNSSEC keys for the ICANN-NTIA-Verisign root zone of the domain name system. Apart from that I perceive no particular technical value that ICANN... My comment to NTIA regarding IANA
  342. My Latest Video April 03 2011 I'm doing videos now - over at Page Fault Productions. Here's my latest:... My Latest Video
  343. GrassRoots2 Update July 18 2011 I've been writing a new version of the "grassroots" system that was on the net around 1998 but which has since disappeared. The GrassRoots2 system is a tool that allows anyone to create their own domain name system (DNS) root and populate it with whatever top level domains (TLDs) that they chose to include - not merely ones approved by ICANN (and one could, if one desired, elide some approved by ICANN, such as .xxx.) Some people think that this is a form of internet anathema.  But it's really nothing new, and is, in fact a return to the idea of innovation by users at the edges of the net - it reifies the IETF's slogan that it "rejects kings". Since the start of the domain name system it has always been possible for anyone to establish their own DNS root - but to do so required some technical expertise. ... GrassRoots2 Update
  344. Removing IDN Test TLDs July 24 2011 There are 11 "test" top level domains (TLDs) in the ICANN/NTIA/Verisign domain name system (DNS) root.  (See Root Zone Database and click on the "IDNs" tab.) Those TLDs were put there to perform testing of the internationalized domain name (IDN) concept. Time has advanced; IDNs are not longer a test concept, yet the "test" TLDs remain. Why? It seems to me that unless they can enunciate some compelling reasons why to retain them that ICANN and/or IANA ought to remove those "test" TLDs.... Removing IDN Test TLDs
  345. What is the real cost of changing to internet based telephone? November 09 2012 It appears that the relic of Ma Bell wants to drive a final nail into the coffin of traditional Plain Old Telephone Service. There is no doubt that packet-switched voice (mainly in the form of VoIP) is less expensive, or seems to be less expensive, then the old circuit switched calls of yesterday. It is, however, worthwhile to consider what we have lost. Why is packet-based voice seemingly less expensive? There are three primary reasons: Packet switching systems, such as the internet, are giant statistical multiplexers.  As such the silences of some data (or voice) flows can be utilized to carry the traffic of other flows.  And because the internet is both voice and data the set of flows that go into the statistical mix is large and, on average, things work out.  However at times of heavy load, system stress, or simply whenever the gods of statistics and probability... What is the real cost of changing to internet based telephone?
  346. The History of the Internet Project November 26 2012 I've started a new project: The History of the Internet Project. We are trying to build a series of short videos containing primary source content about the internet in the years 1965 through 1995 (when the world wide web began to grow.) Our focus is more on the people and ideas - and their interactions - than on how the technology works. We plan roughly 200 episodes!  They will be published as we do them. All of this will be under a Creative Commons license, including the raw takes.... The History of the Internet Project
  347. A letter to Congress about NTIA and ICAN April 21 2014 Here's a pointer to a note I just sent to several memebers of Congress regarding the possible separation of ICANN from NTIA. My conclusion is simple: ICANN is in need of supervision and oversight. NTIA has not fulfilled that role so there is no loss should NTIA step aside. However, some oversight from somewhere is necessary.... A letter to Congress about NTIA and ICAN