[discuss] So-called alternate roots

Phillip Hallam-Baker hallam at gmail.com
Sat Jan 4 04:22:46 UTC 2014

The technical specifications have always been designed to support multiple
name spaces.

But the only name space that the Internet is currently connected to is the
IN class.

You can assert that '.com' has a different registry or 'microsoft.com' has
a different owner. And that is of course the problem. The only reason the
name has value is that the browsers resolve it to a single entity.

The value of a name to the owner is proportional to the number of people
who will rely on registries who bind it to the resources owned by the owner.

The value of a registry to a relying party depends on the resolver
directing them to the resources owned by the party they expect. This in
turn requires that if they are given a name by another person that it will
bind to the same resources.

There is certainly value to a registry in having people rely on them to
resolve but the resolver that has the largest number of relying parties
will always offer a more valuable service than one with fewer relying

At present the value proposition of the ICANN registry is $X to owners and
$Y to relying parties. The value of a new registry is essentially $0 to

A new registry can offer value to an owner even if there is a negligible
number of relying parties. But unless a new registry is prepared to
actually pay relying parties to use them, the value to the relying party is
essentially $0 and will always be less than $Y unless the new registry can
somehow manage to grow to acquire a larger number of relying parties than
the incumbent despite offering less value.

Governments can attempt to mandate use of a particular registry but unless
this is backed by public executions (as in North Korea) then it isn't going
to stick. And no, I am not making a joke, they murdered eighty people there
last month for using iPods. Even with those measures, the North Korean
regime is collapsing, the little twerp even murdered his uncle a few weeks
ago. At some point even Beijing is going to get embarrassed.

The only way that the registry situation can be changed is with a major
shock that causes the relying parties to switch. For example some idiot
trying to get the Cubana vote in Florida by pushing through a bill to drop
Cuba out of the root.

I can't see the situation resolving in favor of an ITU scheme no matter
what though. Any breakaway from ICANN would have to be led by the ISPs and
backbone providers and they have as little use for the telephone people as
iTunes and Pandora etc. have for the Gramophone people.

On Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 10:45 PM, Michel Gauthier <mg at telepresse.com> wrote:

>  At 01:59 04/01/2014, Brian E Carpenter wrote:
> > The people in charge (ICANN) state the "policy currently followed in
> > administering the authoritative root of the Domain Name System"
> > "provides a facility for future extensions that accommodates the
> > possibility of safely deploying multiple roots on the public Internet"
> > as "ultimately there may be better architectures for getting the job
> > done where the need for a single, authoritative root will not be an
> issue".
> >
> > http://www.icann.org/en/about/unique-authoritative-root
> Brian,
> I can only repeat what I wrote to Andrew, i.e. to consider the published
> and enforced policy of ICANN which is actually and - at least currently -
> in charge and whishes through the Sao Paulo meeting to become "MS
> globalized" together with the IANA, i.e. either under the augmented control
> of the US Gov as many think, or on the countrary outside of its control as
> others hope.
> Please understand. You and ICANN oppose on the key point for the world of
> multiple root technical and political competitions. The issue is worth
> billions as documented yesterday by Steve Crocker and others. Why would the
> world trust any of you? In order to restore trust, the best is probably to
> ask the opinion and demonstrated management of "neutral" technicians
> belongingi to ITU, ISO or a new World Dedicated Organization?
> I am monitoring the Internet technical and political governance for long
> enough to be perfectly aware of the arguments involved and community tests
> that have been actually performed, whith which results. When you say ...
> This isn't the first time people have wished to rescind the laws
> of mathematics. If a name space is to be unambiguous it must
> have a single logical root and that is not going to change, even
> ultimately. There could be other implementation techniques that
> would hide the single root from view, although I can't see why
> that would be an advantage.
> (That kind of solution, which I investigated at a very abstract
> level a few years ago, requires independent allocation engines
> to communicate with each other to either deny an allocation
> request or to guarantee that it's unique. Although that doesn't
> require a single engine to act as the root, it does require the
> entire set of allocators to communicate with each other. That's
> a lot of complexity for no obvious advantage.)
> ... this makes no sense to me, may be because you position yourself "at a
> very abstract level" while ICANN states the countrary at a very practical
> one, in very clear terms. So, being only a news person I can only report
> that ICANN and IETF leaders oppose on what is definitly the political and
> technical main internet issue for the users.
> ICANN responds to you:
> "It should be noted that the original design of the DNS provides a
> facility for future extensions that accommodates the possibility of safely
> deploying multiple roots on the public Internet for experimental and other
> purposes. As noted in RFC 1034 <http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc1034.txt>,
> the DNS includes a "class" tag on each resource record, which allows
> resource records of different classes to be distinguished even though they
> are commingled on the public Internet. For resource records within the
> authoritative root-server system, this class tag is set to "IN"; other
> values have been standardized for particular uses, including 255 possible
> values designated for "private use" that are
> particularly suited to experimentation
> "As described in a recent proposal within the IETF,
> <http://www.icann.org/en/about/unique-authoritative-root#fn11>this
> "class" facility allows an alternate DNS namespace to be operated from
> different root servers in a manner that does not interfere with the stable
> operation of the existing authoritative root-server system. To take
> advantage of this facility, it should be noted, requires the use of client
> or applications software developed for the alternate namespace (presumably
> deployed after responsible testing), rather than the existing software that
> has been developed to interoperate with the authoritative root. Those who
> operate alternate roots for global commercial purposes, however, have not
> followed this course.
> "In an ever-evolving Internet, ultimately there may be better
> architectures for getting the job done where the need for a single,
> authoritative root will not be an issue. But that is not the case today.
> And the transition to such an architecture, should it emerge, would require
> community-based approaches. In the interim, responsible experimentation
> should be encouraged, but it should not be done in a manner that affects
> those who do not consent after being informed of the character of the
> experiment."
> Questions to everyone:
> 1. is RFC 1034 correctly understood by ICANN?
> 2. which responsible experimentation has ICANN fostered in 12 years?
> 3. It seems there is a subtile difference between:
> 3.1. the concept of "alternate root" (singular) which is opposed on
> mathematical grounds that everyone can understand (two versions of the same
> hierarchy that can pollute one another). This is what you, Vittorio and
> Nathalie are discussing. I am not interested in this ICANN/status-quo
> smokescreen issue we all know the no-interest cons/pros by heart.
> 3.2. the DNS architecture conceived to support a multiplicity of fully
> separated "alternate roots" (plural) each under its separate adminstration,
> rules, rates, purposes, AoC, etc. As there are thousands private ones.
> ICANN and IETF should clarify this terminology before Sao Paulo as there
> are several "alternate root" (singular) administrators (plural). and quite
> a few of private/public "alternate roots"A press release would be enough.
> 3.3. what is the situation of the Chinese DNS? How the i-DNs plug-in
> qualifies? As an alternate-version of the ICANN/NTIA class, as an alternate
> root among the few roots, or as an alternate DNS?
> 4. ICANN has sold the exclusive uses of Internet TLD names without
> specifying it was only for the "ICANN/NTIA" ("IN") class. What does prevent
> anyone to set-up a "private-use class" global name space, supporting the
> same and more or less TLDs as/than those of the ICANN/NTIA class, that
> anyone using a "client or applications software" also supporting that
> [private-use class] namespace" may resolve? Should not inter-root
> administrators governance to be set-up to avoid confusions, discuss IP
> issues, and foster coopetition be part of the IG? It seems that this has a
> technical governance part, from what you say?
> 5. There are on-going rumor about the discussion in Sao Paulo of
> specialized (experimental) classes, in particular in the "IoT" area where
> Fadi Chehade would like to strike anIANA deal with GS1, as it is permitted
> by the one you explained you signed for the IETF.
> It is important to realize that everyone want to know who is leading the
> show and to where. There is a meeting that has been agreed between ICANN
> and Brazil. It seems its preparation boils down to an 1NET/LOG cooking. LOG
> does not respond. ICANN and I*society disagree.
> Not easy to understand how corporate users and entrepreneurs should
> consider all this, and what they should possibly participate or
> alternatively proceed.
> 5. So the last question for the day is : is there someone who knows where
> all this is leading to? Is there anyone in the Internet Cockpit?
> MG
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Website: http://hallambaker.com/
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