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Comment I was there... And it did not happen that way. (Score 1) 149

I was one of the leading team members at System Development Corporation (SDC) in the 1970's on various secure operating system and secure networking projects for various US and UK governmental bodies.

Some of that work was classified, much was not.

In late 1974 David Kaufman and I were working on network security, particularly on the then monolithic TCP (there was at that time no formalized underlying datagram IP layer.) Among other things we were designing and building a multi-level secure nework, with multi-level verifiied secure switches/routers, for a goverment agency.

In our work we split an encrypted datagram layer off from the underside of TCP. Because of nature of packet ordering, packet loss, retransmissions, as well as aspects of various security algorithms this was not as straightforward as one might think.

What we came up with was a precursor to what are today encrypted VLANS, IPSEC, and key distribution infrastructures.

However, we were not able to publish our work widely. In fact now, 40 years later, there is scarcely anything visible on the public web. Even our work that was published via the then National Bureal of Standards (now NIST) is not easily found. (I have been searching for years for a copy of some work I did on debugging hooks for secure operating systems.)

We also worked on things like capability based computers and operating systems with formal verfication of security properties. During that time I designed and wrote what is aguably the first formally verified secure operating system.) That work, also, tends to remain hard to find.

Vint Cerf was a consultant to our group. He helped. But the major thrust and principle design work was done by our team at SDC.

The US Dept of Defense (which includes several agencies) funded much of this work - and really helped move things along - but their institutional resistence to wide publication meant that many of the ideas and implementations we did in the mid 1970's were invisible to most of the world until they were re-invented decades later.

Comment Opposite viewpoint (Score 1) 63

I have long held that competing DNS root systems *can* work - and in fact have been working for long time.

The issue is not whether there is one singular catholic DNS root, but rather the degree of consistency between competing roots.

We all accept that internet users dislike surprise - they will not like any DNS root that give surprising (or misleading or fraudulent answers). That's why any DNS root that gives surprising DNS answers will quickly be shunned.

What is intriguing about competing DNS roots is that they provide a way around ICANN and around ICANN's choices - and ICANN's fees and ICANN's trademark-over-everything-else policies.

I wrote a note on this topic some years ago - "What would the internet be like had there been no ICANN?" at

Comment IP multicast - prior art? (Score 2) 325

IP multicast has been in active use on the internet since the 1980's.

IP multicast lets receivers join groups, defined by a special class of IP addresses. Senders emit packets addressed to those addresses and the IP mulitcast routing systems (of which there are several) build distribution trees to get those packets to those receivers.

So to the extent that this patent claims include subscription based addressing and transmission of data packets, IP multicast has been a running example of this for at least a quarter of a century.

Comment Your past becomes visible (again) (Score 1) 56

All those security cameras out there are recording everyone. And a lot of that footage is retained.

With this kind of technology all of that past footage could be scanned and a dossier of past whereabouts created.

(Yes, I know that our mobile phones are already reporting on our whereabouts, but at least you can turn a phone off.)

Comment Feed 'em false numbers (Score 4, Interesting) 138

It would be easy to set up a weakly protect access point that did nothing but generate bogus transactions with bad credit card numbers - that could pollute the crook's database, particularly if they don't do a good job of recording of which card number came from which network.

And if the bogus numbers were timestamped and logged then when the bad card numbers are used (and bounced) one could use the bounced transactions to build a map of where the crooks were on any given day.

Comment Are corporations immune? (Score 1) 162

What about corporations?

There are corporate companies such as those that use open source in violation of the license or data-harvesting companies that are likely to have three infringements an hour - are those companies subject to this law? Could Google, if it were found to have 3 violations, be knocked off the net for 6 months?

Comment Wrong and Right (Score 1) 124

The referenced article is somewhat incorrect - word is that the governments aren't asking for the power for one country to veto ICANN. But it may prove that the governments are doing what they do well - using euphemisms to cover harsh intent.

ICANN pulls about a $1,000,000,000 (one billion) USD every year out of the pockets of net users in the form of fiat "registry" feels, i.e. about $7 per name per year to Verisign. Given that we are paying this much to get so little, we do have a right to dig deeper into what this expensive organization is actually doing...

At the end of the article we hear an ICANN employee repeating ICANN's mantra that ICANN assures the stability of net identifiers.

That description is false.

ICANN spends 99%+ of its effort on matters that have no reasonable affect on the stability of domain names or IP addresses, that is unless one includes trademark protection into the definition of stability - which is something for national legislatures, not a private body that purports to promote technical stability.

There is a cure to the common ICANN - which is for people to construct competing, consistent DNS roots. Those would contain all of the top level domains that ICANN recognizes - and perhaps some boutique ones as well - but would be outside of the ICANN mandate.

The word "consistent" is important - it would be bad if people resolved names and got surprising answers (sort of like the bad Hungarian-English dictionary in the Monty Python Tobacconist sketch.)

There is no technical way to prevent people from setting up competing, consistent roots. Nor is it unlawful. And it is often done in stealth by ISP's, smart companies, or individual users. DNSSEC does not affect competing consistent roots, but will require them to have their own root keys (subsidiary TLD keys aren't affected.)

Recent events - political in North Africa and natural in Japan - suggest that having a local ability to establish a DNS root could be a valuable tools to help speed healing of net communications when the net is torn by those events.

Long ago I suggested to ICANN that they get a monthly report from every top level domain of the top 10% or 20% of the second level names by query volume. From that ICANN could produce a Knoppix-like DVD that could be booted up and would contain a pre-populated root server with the familiar TLDs and those top 10/20% of the names. That sort of thing could be used to help kick-start local communications recovery after a natural or human disaster. But ICANN said "no, not our job".

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 220

The point you make is valid - there isn't a lot of clear "need" for new top level domains.

But then again there wasn't a "need" for facebook.

It is simply a matter of allowing people to do what they want to do - or in the case of businesses, allowing people to hope to make some money (but more likely to lose it.)

If we limit the choices that others can make then we ourselves become censors.

Comment Check the contracts (Score 1) 220

ICANN is no longer operating under the old agreements (which went under various names) and is now under an "affirmation" that amounts to an amicable and somewhat supervised divorce between the US gov't and ICANN.

ICANN is on its own, except for that has duties under a zero dollar purchase order to supply "IANA Functions". But that,although it lacks definitions, has always been considered somewhat separate from the domain name issues.

There is an amusing twist - ICANN is a California corporation and there is an old never-repealed law in the California Corporations Code that possibly defines a corporation that takes direction from a foreign government to be a "subversive organization". (See sections 35000 through 35007 of the Calif. Corporations code.)

Comment There is a solution (Score 2) 220

It is merely a religious dogma that the internet requires exactly one domain name root.

One way to fight censorship of domain names is to have multiple roots.

It would be bad to have multiple roots that lead to different answers to the same query.

The solution is to have *consistent* but multiple DNS roots. That way any censorship could be obviated simply by users (or their ISP's changing to an uncensored root.)

The definition of "consistent" makes a difference. Some define it as being absolutely the same. I give relax that a bit to say that if a top level domain (TLD) exists then it must have the same contents in all roots that carry it, but that not all roots need carry every TLD.

(If TLDs have disputed contents than I claim that they are tainted goods and that any self-respecting root operator ought to put a pox on both their houses and carry none of the disputants' versions.)

A side effect of this approach is that, like TV channels fighting for space on cable and satellite provider's, new TLDs can arise and fight for visibility and user share without the need of a centralized authority such as ICANN.

There will, of course, be situations in which abc.example won't resolve in a root that doesn't carry .example. But progress is never perfect - look at the way the telephone system collapsed with the introduction of the touch pad and the revolutionary '#' and '*' keys.

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