Infrastructure
Commentary
7/5/2005
07:19 AM
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Feds And The Internet: If It's Not Broken, They'll Break It

If there's one thing you can count on the federal government getting wrong, it's how to handle the Internet. Last week's announcement that the feds will retain control of the domain system -- at the same time it was holding hearings into IP v6 problems -- prove that in spades.

If there's one thing you can count on the federal government getting wrong, it's how to handle the Internet. Last week's announcement that the feds will retain control of the domain system -- at the same time it was holding hearings into IP v6 problems -- prove that in spades.

Early in the week, a top official in the Commerce Department announced that the U.S. was going to keep its control over the Internet domain system and root servers. The reason wasn't made clear, but it's certainly in keeping with the current administration's go-it-alone attitude when it comes to international relations. After all, didn't one of our senators, Al Gore, invent the Internet? If so, don't we get to keep it all to ourselves?

Later in the week, Congress held a hearing into why the U.S. lags so far behind Asia in deploying IPv6. Reasons were a little hard to come by, but one thing was abundantly clear -- when it comes to deploying this next-generation protocol, we're getting our behinds kicked by Asian countries, whose governments are spending hundreds of billions of dollars to make sure they take advantage of the protocol.

The U.S., of course, is adverse to spending public money on advancing technology. After all, isn't that money supposed to be earmarked for subsidizing Big Agriculture, Big Oil, or some other very big private industry with Congress and the White House in its back pocket?

In both instances, we've got it all wrong. As the IPv6 hearings show, many parts in the rest of the world have it right when it comes to technology -- often, it needs a kickstart and help from public money, because development of technology is for the public good.

And because the rest of the world is catching up to us in technology, or in some instances surpassing us as the IPv6 hearings show, we need to have international cooperation when it comes to Internet control. That will only help us, because we'll be able to take advantage of the world's best minds, not just those in the U.S.

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