[discuss] Roadmap for globalizing IANA

Seth Johnson seth.p.johnson at gmail.com
Wed Mar 5 19:50:09 UTC 2014

On Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 4:13 PM, James Seng <james.seng at gmail.com> wrote:
> If we can separate the debate on control over namespace vs the actual
> operation of the root server (or its anycast consetallation), we can divide
> the political problem of the root servers by half :-)

First is the address space.  We begin with agreement that a procedure
and authority designates endpoints with numeric IPs, or gives ISPs a
range of numeric IPs.  There is policy there, but arguably it's much
cleaner because the element of arbitrarity allows the convention of
universality to be established as well as the element of consent to be
gained to particular assignments more readily.  It is also devoid of
questions of special privileges assigned to morphological strings
(i.e., trademarks).  There can still be issues raised here, but
solutions can usually be found by simple disinterest and arbitrarity.

Distinguish from that the namespace.  There's the first place where
policy issues that are more complex arise.  It's also where a critical
point first arises with respect to identifiers and the international
context: this is the fact that the legal traditions for trademark are
local and statutory, and within individual jurisdictions, the
principle that fundamental liberties have priority over government
acts granting exclusive (statutory) rights.  The international arena
doesn't represent that principle, because even with international
treaties for fundamental rights, fundamental rights do not have
priority over the position of governments.  The best that can be hoped
for there is a much weaker "balancing" of state interests against
treaties that are themselves enacted by governments, not by the

Address space -> name space.  Build out from there.

Next key critical point to keep in mind in addressing things that IANA
and ICANN have been doing within the general topic of governance is:
Universal identifiers are necessary but not sufficient for the
Internet.  A policy framework that associates with identifiers (which
goes well beyond the technical need to uniquely identify endpoints) is
not necessarily a policy framework that fits well with the Internet,
because, for instance, exclusive rights policies can interfere with the
interoperability and flexibility of the platform, indeed
the question of the fundamental place and role of published information in free
society is critical in these contexts.  IANA functions (including port
assignments) may also be affected by more morphological policies
(policies related to meaningful strings), and similar distinctions may
be worthwhile there.

I note these points here to indicate that a proper framework for
addressing universal identifiers needs to see where the fundamental
concerns begin to arise.  There has, for instance, been a tendency to
address exclusive rights in the international arena in ways that don't
really recognize either the nature of the rights and the key questions
of how they should relate to more fundamental principles, or the
impact that misconceived exclusive rights policies have.  That
is, governance very quickly enters into issues that may entail
rethinking of the design of organizations like ICANN.

It's best to try to start with the more pure numerical address space
and then proceed carefully to morphological (meaningful) identifiers
and other uses of identifiers besides simply designating specific
endpoints (think exclusive rights policies or the whole breadth of
applications of cryptographic validation of identifiers).  The term
"namespace" may already be impinged on by these kinds of questions of
types of policy and governance structures.

One more point, already implied above, but important to conclude with:
once you set up the frame for universal identifiers for endpoints, you
have not completed the frame of governance necessary for the Internet,
since the identifiers are only one piece of what makes the Internet
work.  A corollary: a distinction needs to be maintained between
identifiers for purposes of identifying endpoints and the use of
identifiers in numerous other ways.  Once you have a governance
structure for universal identifiers in the sense of identifying
endpoints, you have not thereby also established a governance
structure appropriate for developing many other types of policies and
conventions to be associated with identifiers.

I think I'll repost this with its own subject header as well as
posting it here in reply on this thread.


> On Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 3:28 AM, David Conrad <drc at virtualized.org> wrote:
>> On Mar 3, 2014, at 7:10 PM, Seun Ojedeji <seun.ojedeji at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > I was just trying sight past comments/thread about having multiple
>> > alternate root servers (to perhaps break the "perceived" ICANN monopoly
>> > (which i agree does not make sense either :) )
>> I understand, however just for clarity (and somewhat orthogonal to this
>> thread), there is nothing wrong with having multiple root servers or server
>> systems.  What matters is the namespace, that is the universe of all
>> possible names. How that namespace is implemented, whether it is on the
>> "traditional" name servers or ORSN or via ISP's resolvers  mirroring the
>> root zone or my copying the root zone and installing it on my laptop, is
>> irrelevant (particularly given DNSSEC).  Where things break down is when
>> people want _different_ namespaces at the same time they expect those
>> namespaces to interoperate and not leak.
>> Regards,
>> -drc
>> _______________________________________________
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> --
> -James Seng
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