Gordon Cook on Fri, 28 Mar 1997 20:42:12 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> US Federal gov't decides to solve DNS problem - rug pulled out from under NSF -

Clinton Administration Embraces DNS Tar Baby, Magaziner & OMB Responsible 

Action Derails Agreement with Network Solutions & NSF to End 
Co-operative Agreement on April 1 1997 

Ill Considered Move Halts Formation of ARIN IP Registry

Critics Say Action Deprives IANA of Opportunity for Legal Foundation of 
Authority & Endangers Stability of the Internet by Putting IP Numbers at

[NOTE:  This is the public summary of the page one article for the MAY
1997 Cook Report on Internet. We are releasing it to the internet before
the weekend begins. We hope to publish the complete May issue before the
end of the weekend.]

Thanks to the meddling of hopefully well meaning folk - Ira Magaziner's
Internet task force at the White House, and an inter agency task force
centered at OMB, we are faced with a potentially dangerous situation for
the Internet. It is no secret how badly the Domain Name System is about to
become fouled up after a year and a half of squabbling among competing
bodies. But what is not broadly understood is that NSI runs the IP
registry for the Western hemisphere and feeds content to the "." dot
servers for the world that are located at NSI  but owned by IANA. These
are functions that there is no longer any legitimate reason for the US
government to be involved with. But they are also so critical to the
operation of the Internet that they must be moved very promptly to a
separate and neutral body independent of NSI and one unable to be dragged
"under" by the waves litigation now threatening everyone involved with
Domain Name System.

After talking with numerous sources familiar with the events of the last
two months, we are convinced that policy coming from the White House has,
inadvertently, put a stop to plans that had moved far enough along so that
the above removal of ARIN's functions from NSI could have happened in a
way that would benefit the world wide Internet community. Fall out from
this action has meant a halt in plans under way that would have - very
shortly - resulted in the establishment of an independent American
Registry for Internet Numbers. The establishment of ARIN also means that
for the first time the operations of the IANA could become
institutionalized and gain a sounder international foundation

Putting a hold on the establishment of ARIN renders the authority of IANA
more liable to court challenge and leaves the payroll, database, and
control of the IP number registry process in the hands of a commercial
company (NSI) that does the original .com and other global top level
domain name registry for the entire internet world wide. As someone
closely involved with ARIN told us: "The real danger is that numbers are
being subsidized by domain names, and domain names are about to become a

While NSI has shown no signs that it cannot or should not be trusted, it
is improbable that NSF oversight of NSI will extend beyond the current
agreement whereas the need for NSI as a stabilized registry operation in
an impending sea of change in the Domain Name arena will continue.

Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that NSI will sooner or later be
granted full independence from NSF oversight . When this happens leaving
the power inherent in both the DNS and the ARIN functions in the hands of
a single corporation would be unwise. Also, while one hopes the chances
are small that anything serious will happen to the viability of Network
Solutions, it's DNS database performance during the last half of March has
been horrendous with major names that had already paid being removed from
the root servers for non payment - something that has led to disruption of
service for many entities involved. In the litigious atmosphere that
surrounds this whole environment, Network Solutions will surely be a

In an exclusive interview on March 27 with Don Telage, President of NSI we
were able to establish, with some degree of precision, that at the end of
February, the National Science Foundation and Network Solutions had
reached an agreement in principal to bring the NSF/NSI cooperative
agreement to a conclusion a year early on April 1, 1997 and to establish
and fund during a transition period the American Registry for Internet
Numbers (ARIN) which would have been freed from NSI control on April 1,
1997. Unfortunately, the administration move to find a fix for DNS
(discussed later in our full article) caused all forward movement between
NSI and NSF to cease on Monday March 3. Since then the situation has
become much more difficult and the freeing of ARIN as part of a package
deal that was acceptable to both sides at the beginning of March looks far
less acceptable to to NSI now as a stand alone option. [Editor's note: we
have here confirmation of the damage that the administration's ill advised
meddling has done. We and, we hope the entire internet, will be watching
closely to see what they do to fix the mess they have created.]

ARIN will temporarily cover Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. The ARIN
organizers are working with both areas to help them set up their own
regional registries.  Then, under the auspices of IANA would be five
registries, AfriNIC, ALyCNIC, APNIC, ARIN, and RIPE. Leaving IP
registration for the western hemisphere and sub-Saharan Africa
indefinitely under the aegis of NSI under the current stressful conditions
does not make sense. If anything disastrous happened to impact the
viability of NSI, IP registration and dot operation could be set up
elsewhere within 48 to 72 hours - if the people and hardware were
available. But during such a transition there would likely be substantial
disruption of Internet service worldwide. Also, during such a move,
assignment of new numbers would not take place and that process would take
longer to get back to normal.

In a conversation with a White House source on March 25 we found out the
Administration has decided that the Federal government needs to study the
DNS and solve a problem for the Internet community that it has been
otherwise unable to solve for itself. Unfortunately it appears that
Magaziner's group has been listening to the positions that Tony Rutkowski
and the corporate lawyers of the Internet Law and Policy Forum have been
promoting both on the network and off line. The source maintains that the
inter-agency task force is unaware that in grabbing the DNS tar baby it
also has grabbed and derailed - for the time being - ARIN.

In derailing ARIN the group is undertaking actions that pose some risk to
the stable operation of the internet world wide. That stability can be
ensured only by the resumption of swift action to resume the establishment
of ARIN and, in the face of a likely onslaught of DNS related lawsuits,
and to create a Global Council of IP Registries, to internationalize the
IANA, with members taken initially from the three regional registries;
European (Ripe), the American (ARIN) and the Asian (APNIC) IP registries;
and other regional registries added as they develop. 

The COOK Report on Internet               For subsc. pricing & more than
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