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China Prepares to Launch Alternate Internet 510

Posted by Zonk
from the aided-by-google-no-doubt dept.
Netfree writes "The Chinese government has announced plans to launch an alternate Internet root system with new Chinese character domains for dot-com and dot-net. This may mean that Chinese Internet users will no longer rely on ICANN, the U.S.-backed domain name administrator, and, as one commentator notes, could be the beginning of the end of the globally interoperable Internet."
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China Prepares to Launch Alternate Internet

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  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:11PM (#14817800)
    This most likely wouldn't have happened if the current Bush administration cooperates internationally. Thanks a bunch!
  • it makes sense... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AxemRed (755470) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:12PM (#14817813)
    Controlling the backbones will make the "internet" a lot easier for them to censor.
  • I guess (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Orclover (228413) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:13PM (#14817827)
    I guess google's bending over backwards to censor the web searching just wasnt good enough, maybe some of the citizens figured out how to use lycos. Nothing they can do about that but recreate the internet in thier own immage. But without porn...will it really be the internet?
  • Very simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Brunellus (875635) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:13PM (#14817839) Homepage

    The idea is user-friendliness and connectivity, but on the terms of the Chinese Communist Party

    Chinese-encoded TLDs will make it easier for an increasingly-wired Chinese people to use the internet. It will also make it much easier for the Party to control exactly what happens on Chinese-language domains.

    In an earlier age, Mao said that the Party must be in control of the gun. Now, the Party must be in control of the network. The effect is the same.

  • sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eobanb (823187) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:15PM (#14817852) Homepage
    I can't help but view this as the fault of the US. Think about it. ICANN, a US organisation, has done little to cater to the wishes of China, even though they're a large (and growing) presence on the internet. I may not agree with some of the views of the Chinese government, but if they want Chinese TLDs, they should have them.

    ICANN needs to get off their high horse immediately.
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:18PM (#14817871)
    This move puts Chinese companies at a competitive disadvantage -- how can they connect to foreign suppliers, distributors, and customers? Will western companies continue to outsource to China if the country puts up too many obstacles to free communication?
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:20PM (#14817903)
    It is somewhat surprising, however, that China has chosen .com and .net as two of their TLDs, virtually guaranteeing operability problems with the rest of the Internet.

    Should not be a problem as long as their names include even one Chinese character, since I'm not aware that ICANN is even capable of assigning such names otherwise. At least I have yet to hear about any such names.

    Strikes me that what they're trying to do is even further cut themselves off from undesired Western influences. They may well succeed -- for a while.

  • Of course not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:28PM (#14818001)
    All root systems are totally optional. You don't need to use DNS at all to use the Internet, and if you do use DNS, you are free to use your own that is tied to no roots and assign domains to IPs as you see fit. The ICANN roots are simply the defacto standard. It's a system that nearly everyone uses to provide DNS that's accessable to everyone else. There are other root services, OpenNIC for example, they just aren't used all that much.

    This is all much ado about nothing, as it always has been with these DNS debates. Other countries are free to create a non-ICANN root system and that system can be compatible or not compatible. If they choose, they can register only non-ICANN TLDs, and provide access to ICANN TLDs by mirroring ICANN's root file. They can also choose to provide alternate, incompatible registrations of ICANN TLDs.

    Wether any of this has any effect depends on if any DNS servers add their roots to the list of roots they check. If most DNS servers never check them, they'll be irrelivant. If most do, they'll be relivant.

    Within the borders of China, of course, the government can mandidate people use it, but on a global scale it's up to the people who write DNS servers, and ultimately individual sysamdins. If you admin a DNS server, you determine which roots, if any, it chooses to use.
  • Re:sigh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:31PM (#14818034)
    I can't help but view this as the fault of the US. Think about it. ICANN, a US organisation, has done little to cater to the wishes of China, even though they're a large (and growing) presence on the internet.

    China's wishes are irrelevant. Like most countries, ICANN gave control of .cn to the Chinese government to manage as they see fit. I have no clue if China is doing a good job of managing .cn. But it's up to them.

    I may not agree with some of the views of the Chinese government, but if they want Chinese TLDs, they should have them.

    There are workarounds like punycode to register domain names with non-ascii characters. They work pretty well. If a Chinese company wants to register a .com name, no one is stopping them. The rules for .com registration, ownership & transfer are pretty clear. Pay around $8 per year and there you go.

    As a sovereign nation, China can do as they wish within their borders. But if you expect anyone outside China to accept China's DNS servers as authoritative for .com (or .net, .us, .ca, .uk, etc.), I think you're wrong.

    The only real complaint China has is how many IPv4 addresses they have.
  • Re:sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IAmTheDave (746256) <basenamedave-sd@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:33PM (#14818064) Homepage Journal
    I can't help but view this as the fault of the US. Think about it.

    Not at all. China wants full and complete control of the internet and how it gives information to it's users. If ICANN had made chinese-character-encoded TLDs available, the Chinese government would have chosen a different method of control.

    Make no mistake - this is an isolationary tactic, taking back control of what I'm sure the Chinese government sees as rightfully theirs. If ICANN does not exist in China and is not beholden to Chinese authority, then China does not have enough control and will shun ICANN, no matter how "cooperative" they may be.

  • Issue of Control (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nkwe (604125) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:33PM (#14818074)
    If China wanted to control what their citizens could see and do on the Internet they could 1) set up their own DNS, and 2) Prohibit DNS traffic from leaving or entering the country. While technically savvy folks could navigate by solely IP or make partnerships with someone outside of China to get DNS information over non-standard ports, restricting use of DNS would be a highly effective control.
  • Re:Of course not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ErikZ (55491) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:35PM (#14818091)
    You don't need to use DNS at all to use the Internet, and if you do use DNS, you are free to use your own that is tied to no roots and assign domains to IPs as you see fit.

    And in other news, The Chinese government has banned the use of foriegn root servers. Violators may be enrolled in the the state "Organ Donor" farm program.
  • by UnanimousCoward (9841) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:56PM (#14818367) Homepage Journal
    ...how can they connect to foreign suppliers, distributors, and customers?

    You should be asking the question the other way around:

    How can foreign suppliers, distributors, and customers connect to them?

    Clearly, China has made a calculated decision that these parties need China more than China needs them, and that steps will be taken to accommodate the problem...
  • Re:sigh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by posterlogo (943853) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @02:47PM (#14818935)
    I honestly did think the ICANN's position was a little inflexible, until I saw this. I have to say, with ICANN in the hands of an international body, all it would do is draw even more countries into arguments with each other. Atleast this way, it's every country vs. ICANN, so to speak. Imagine if there were an international body, that China could lobby heavily on, to interfere with the internet interests of Taiwan? Does anyone think that couldn't possibly happen. I think ICANN as a US subsidiary actually would protect the interests of weaker and less developed nations. That is not really the debate here, I think, however. It seems when dealing with the Chinese government's stance on the internet, there is little ICANN or anyone else could have done to satisfy the communist (read: totalitarian) government. This should not surprise anyone, and the "blame" should not be placed on ICANN or the US. This is simply another way of controlling the population, limiting their access to the outside world, and at worst, a trick to infringe on the trademarks and copyrights of western businesses (try typing microsoft.com from a browser in china when this is all said and done with).
  • by Zerbs (898056) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @02:53PM (#14819010)
    The problem is that the term communism is used to justify a totalitarian government. True communist philosophy didn't envision an all powerfull government controlling every aspect of its people's lives. Instead of the working class rising up to overthrow the oppressive aristocracy, a new aristocracy came along and said "oh by the way, you're going to be communist now", and slapped the word People's in front of everything.
  • by B2382F29 (742174) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @04:10PM (#14819997)

    And on the other hand you have a lot of not so computer-literate chinese who enter chinese characters via a kind of touchpad [chinese-software.com] and don't know latin characters. How the fuck are they supposed to insert [$LATIN_CHARACTER] in a URL? Not everything in the world revolves around some silly 26 character set.

  • Re:manual DNS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pe1chl (90186) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @04:53PM (#14820547)
    Maybe you should ask yourself how many American people have set a different DNS server, or have installed an alternative application for a common task (say, a webbrowser, a wordprocessor) against "the mainstream".

    Sure, some geeks may do this. But (certainly after some time) the vast majority of users just has the system configured "as it is supposed to be" (or as it comes by default).
  • by glesga_kiss (596639) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @06:39PM (#14821809)
    I think the point is that if China create their own DNS, they will filter other DNS requests at The Great Firewall. This will likely be outgoing only; I'm sure other countries will be able to query the Chinese system.

    There is one huge advantage in this for them; The Great Firewall turns from being a blacklist to a whitelist. Instead of blocking sites based on reports or automatic scanning of content, allowed sites would have to be enabled on the Chinese DNS system. Their DNS would know to delegate to the global DNS system for those domains, meaning transparent connectivity to the remainder of the internet. Where permitted.

    The rest of the world could mess with this by replacing web links with IPs. However that isn't going to happen unless DNS gets really broken. BUT....in world politics, showing face is important. Depending on a foreign power for DNS isn't appealing to most countries, especially when the current maintainer has been acting a little differently lately. Europe has made requests to be more involved in the management of the system, largely for the same reason.

    I often defend China on the intarwebs. It's an amazing culture going back 3,000 years. Unfortunately some people like Mao made some really bad calls with regard to the betterment of their population. This is only recent history. The Chinese are a strong nation and it is generally agreed upon that as a nation they are going to become increasingly a larger player in world affairs. Like the US of old, they are very insular. This is changing as a result of the world changing via technologies such as the internet and increasing world trade and commericialisation. China has special economic zones that are essentially capitalist. They cannot censor the internet, it's simply not possible to a) monitor it all or b) stay ahead of disident techniques. This war will have many casualties in terms of students getting locked up and the like, but I honestly do believe that the Chinese people of 2016 will be very different to the current ones. The whole totalatarism thing is played out over there. It's our turn now.

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