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[I-coordination] The self correcting nature of the American system? Judge rules against NSA tapping program. Snowden vindicated?

Andrew Sullivan ajs at
Tue Dec 17 16:23:17 CET 2013

Dear colleagues,

On Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 07:24:51PM +0500, Fouad Bajwa wrote:
> ICANN is just one actor of the Internet Ecosystem. What ICANN does
> is that it maintains a record of the consumers/purchasers of the
> Domain Names and mainly sold or allocated through its registries,
> registrars, etc. the accuracy of that data remains questionable and
> there are a number of activities directed at resolving the accuracy
> of data issue as well as anonymity of the domain purchasers.

Please let us be careful.  ICANN does not itself maintain a record of
any consumers or purchasers of any domain name.  That's what the
registries and registrars (or sometimes only the registrars) do.  None
of that information is communicated directly to ICANN, and it never
has been.  (This is why the proposals for ICANN to run a single
unified whois are so seriously misguided: they make ICANN a central
data repository subject to pervasive monitoring where it currently is

This is a direct consequence of the design of the DNS.  The DNS is
distributed in two ways.  One of those ways is the authoritative
operation.  ICANN delegates away parts of the root name space to other
organizations -- registries.  Verisign, for instance, has been
delegated .com (among other things).  The government of China (in the
form of CNNIC) has been delegagted .cn.  And so on.  This is basically
a book-keeping function.  Once a name space has been delegated to
someone else, it's that someone else's responsibility to operate the
delegated name space.  That includes a mechanism to peform additional
delegations (and to keep track of those delegations).  This is the
registration data that shows up in whois.  That's why whois ought
properly to be distributed, too; otherwise, the contractual
relationships between parties are much more complicated.

It is true that there are minimal behaviours that are subject to
uniform contractual conditions between ICANN and either registries or
registrars.  This is ICANN's function in its market-making and
market-maintaining mode.  But the idea that ICANN has some sort of
choke point over global DNS registrations misunderstands ICANN's role
in the registration system.
> ICANN is like a contractor with the US govt that has allowed it to
> manage the DNS and IP system and then ICANN has a further network of
> contracted and non-contracted parties that to that effect help in
> the formulation of policies that impact the DNS and IP system.

That is true, but we need to be careful not to forget that these DNS and IP
systems are not monolithic things, but distributed systems that are
designed to have multiple operators of the different distributed parts.

Best regards,


Andrew Sullivan
ajs at

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