Critical Internet Resources
This 2009 IGF-USA session description: “Critical Internet Resources (CIR) and the evolution of the Internet’s technical foundations are a central theme of Internet governance debates. Three foundational technological changes – IPv6, secure DNS (DNSsec) and secure routing – will underpin the dialogue between key experts from the Internet community, business and government. The successful implementation of these technologies can expand and improve the security of the Internet’s core infrastructures, but deployment raises significant challenges for Internet infrastructure providers and policy makers, and has implications for governance arrangements.”
Brenden Kuerbis, operations director for the Internet Governance Project, was the panel moderator. Participants on the panel included Alain Durand, IPv6 architect, office of the CTO, Comcast; David Conrad, vice president of research and IANA strategy for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN); Fiona Alexander, associate administrator for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce; and Stephen Ryan, general counsel, American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN).
View video excerpts from this panel at the following link:
David Conrad, Stephen Ryan and Fiona Alexander – running time 4:23
Global rollout of IPv6 and other CIR issues seen as vital
Moderator Brenden Kuerbis led this discussion off by noting that documents drawn up during the World Summits on the Information Society suggest that critical Internet resources should be managed through global agreements.
“In the third year of IGF, control of CIR was raised forcefully by a member of the Chinese delegation,” Kuerbis said. “Going forward, the management of critical Internet resources is likely to become more contentious.”
He noted the implementation of IPv6 and attempts to introduce more security will complicate the management of CIR.
David Conrad said there are critical Internet resources at all layers of the Internet infrastructure. Not all are being discussed at IGF. “You need electricity, you need IP addresses, routing infrastructure, ports,” he said. “In my experience in the IGF context the focus has only been on a select set of resources – those that are involved in what ICANN does. Electricity is more important than whether or not you can get a domain name. There is a focus on the developed world.”
He added that DNS security and routing are important topics that once again tend to have the policy dialogue centered around ICANN. “It is a place where most of the decisions are made around critical Internet resources – it is a community, just like the RIRs are communities that develop policies in a community-driven, bottom-up process. I encourage you to participate in these meetings.”
Stephen Ryan of ARIN discussed the Regional Internet Registries and their role in CIR. There are five recognized registries located in regions around the world. They were established in the 1990s. He said each “develops policies in its own regions regarding Internet numbering and associated issues.” The leaders of the five registries also meet to set common global policies. The boards are voluntary, and anyone is invited to participate in the process of governing the RIRs. These organizations provide Whois service and assign and give out numbers – IP addresses.
There was some discussion of the fact that IPv4 addresses are being depleted. This was anticipated years ago, and IPv6 is being adopted. “What’s our biggest challenge in regard to critical Internet resources?” he asked. “The numbers resources and the switch to IPv6. The fixed number of IPv4 numbers the free pool of remaining IPv4 resources is small. Clearly we’re going to have to run IPv4 and IPv6 systems in tandem and that’s going to cause problems. Not many people in America understand IP numbers and that their modems won’t work.”
He closed by smiling and saying, “Buy Cisco stock, that’s a tip.”
Alain Durand of Comcast spoke as a panel member who could speak to the CIR concerns of large technology companies. “We are trying to actively participate,” he said. “The bottom-up policy process has been successful. It has been flexible enough to meet all of our demands and we would like it to go on.”
The depletion of IPv4 addresses is of concern, he said. “If you are a large service provider with many customers and you are growing you are going to be impacted more than individual users,” he said. “We have been concerned about imbalances between the RIRs in the world and that is why we have been participating in RIPE discussions, LACNIC discussions and participated in this process as a member of the community.”
Fiona Alexander of NTIA agreed that too much of the discussion of the World Summit on the Information Society text is absorbed by “people’s preoccupation with the domain name system.”
“The network is so decentralized,” she said in reference to the global Internet and the people engaged in working toward its evolution, “but the one organizing group everyone recognizes tends to be ICANN. When you read the WSIS text it explicitly says there are things beyond domain names. We should look at other things as a national priority and as we go into the global discussion of critical Internet resources.”
She said people in government are recognizing they need to understand the layers of architecture to understand its evolution and address needs.
“As the discussion is progressing in our own government about issues related to Internet or telecommunications you really have to understand the network architecture to make smart policy,” she said. “You have to more and more understand the different layers of this network. Governments are listening they are interested in these issues.”
She added that governments know the uptake of IPv6 is important. “This is on the agenda of governments,” she said. “Our own government is struggling with this. We are working closely with NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) as we look at these issues – it helps that we are both in the Department of Commerce. It’s one of the things we are looking at as we assess the transitions that are fundamental to the network.”
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MORE From IGF-USA in different formats
– TheWordPress blog includes comprehensive details from every session, written by Colin Donohue, Morgan Little and Janna Anderson, documentary journalists of the Imagining the Internet Center
– The real-time Twittertweets reported by Imagining the Internet documentary journalists are here
– The main site used by the organizers of the 2009 IGF-USA can be found here