The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is a non-profit organization that oversees the maintenance of Internet-related databases and tasks. The function was previously under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government, who have retained partial control.
Recently, they put out a report detailing how the government would relinquish its remaining functions to the organization, which include administering changes to the Domain Name System’s (DNS) root zone file (such as .edu, .gov and .mil). In one recent article, ICANN stated, “the US recognized ICANN’s maturation in becoming an effective multi-stakeholder organization and requested that ICANN convene the global community to develop the transition process toward a global community consensus-driven mechanism.”
Pressure had been mounting for some time for the government to relinquish its share, particularly after last year’s revelations of the extent of the National Security Agency’s role in internet surveillance.
In a section dealing with “Shared Zone Protocol”, the report goes on to state:
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“It’s not our intention to argue for a specific system here, but we do feel that a good design could allow the political process of deciding how control should be shared to start. Our vision is the creation of a toolbox for shared zone control, not only for the root, but also for other zone coordination problems.
We note that the DNS Operations (DNSOPS) working group in the IETF has two proposals for coordinating DNSSEC signing information, but wonder if it might be better to create a general facility rather than a solution to this point problem. Coordination of forward and reverse addresses might be another application.
The participants could then each do a standard algorithm to generate consistent state. This might seem like a fantasy, but Byzantine algorithms like Bitcoin [Andreesen 2014] and Namecoin show that such systems are possible today.”
It’s unclear if its mention was intentional or coincidental, but the irony is that Namecoin’s mandate is to serve as a decentralized Domain Name System (DNS).
Also noteworthy is that in the overall theme and tone of the report, there is strong emphasis toward that which the cryptocurrency world is trying to achieve: a distributed system and decentralization.