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    Alternate Roots Did Neustar Try to Shaft Competing Roots?
    posted by michael on Wednesday March 27 2002, @06:38AM

    Marc Schneiders and Simon Higgs of the Open Root Server Confederation (ORSC) have published an Internet Draft [Update 9/10/2002: here's a new link for the paper] describing the ORSC's actions to "remedy the collateral damage" caused to both the .us top level domain and the ORSC root by NeuStar.

    The paper complains that NeuStar moved all the .us name servers to machines in the .biz domain.

    Since ORSC root operators consider ICANN's .biz domain to be a collider with a pre-existing TLD (some background), they include Atlantic Root's .biz rather than NeuLevel's ICANN's-approved .biz. By listing the .us name servers only on the .biz machines, NeuStar makes .us domain names unreachable by users of non-ICANN roots. One consequence of this is that US critical infrastructure (state and local governments, schools, hospitals) are no longer visible outside of the ICANN root system.

    The ORSC paper suggests, plausibly enough, that since Neulevel is a subsidiary of Neustar, Neustar's decision to make life difficult for people refusing to use Neulevel's .biz is likely premeditated.



    Here's the "authors comments" section of the ORSC Internet Draft:
    It is the opinion of the authors that the .US top level domain name servers were moved in a deliberate manner in such a way as to break and fragment the DNS, above and beyond the simple introduction of a colliding TLD. It appears to be a deliberate DNS deployment design to put anyone not supporting the ICANN root "out of business".

    Prior to the re-delegation to NeuStar, Inc., the .US top level domain was supported by 7 widely distributed name servers. Since the re-delegation, the .US top level domain has traded those name servers in for 3 vanity-domain name servers on 2 networks. This is in total contrast to the expansion of sub-root name service, such as the deployment of GTLD-SERVERS.NET. More name servers are better since they distribute the load and are more robust and reliable because of increased redundancy. What rational reason could NeuStar, Inc. have unless they were trying to make a specific market- positioning point?

    Because of the closely-held relationship between ICANN, Neustar and NeuLevel, it is entirely possible that there are anti-trust issues here. If this situation doesn't actually break the law, it certainly breaks the spirit and intent of the law. Not to mention it puts critical resources within the .US domain at risk, requiring the intervention of the ORSC in order to re-stabilize the DNS.

    ICANN's job is simply to co-ordinate the DNS alongside various protocol and IP address assignments. Stuart Lynn, ICANN's president, recently admitted that ICANN has failed in it's primary mission objectives. As a result, the ORSC community is currently forced to make fixes and patches to resolve these problems. No one has died yet, but we're just sitting here waiting for the law of averages to run out.

    The ORSC paper also describes how the ORSC is routing around the root problem. It looks like it should work.

    As for me, I wonder if Neustar's actions can be considered actionably anti-competitive? There does not seem to be a technical need to have all the servers in the .biz domain, does there?

    Postscript: I sent an email yesterday to a contact at Neulevel asking for comment on the ORSC paper. No reply. If one comes in, I'll post it.

     
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      Related Links  
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    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    Did Neustar Try to Shaft Competing Roots? | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 20 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re: Did Neustar Try to Shaft Competing Roots?
    by dtobias (dan@tobias.name) on Wednesday March 27 2002, @07:54AM (#5583)
    User #2967 Info | http://domains.dan.info/
    I think they have a valid point insofar as they point out the non-robustness of having fewer and less-widespread nameservers for .us. On the other hand, their complaint about the servers being within .biz, and thus unreachable by people who have configured their systems to use an "alternate" .biz instead, is just unjustified whining. Anybody who sets up a server to use names that aren't part of the official Internet is at risk of having parts of the Internet become inaccessible if any of the divergent namespace gets used in the real Internet. For instance, if I set up an intranet containing a host foo.bar.baz, then if some day the .baz TLD gets created for real and somebody else sets up a host foo.bar.baz, perhaps making it an important name server needed to access other sites, then I'm going to have trouble accessing it, and it's my fault for using a name that could get stepped on by a real name later on.

    Even though various alternative versions of .biz (there are at least two of them) existed before Neulevel's one, they had no official status, while Neulevel's has been granted a place in the official Internet namespace (regardless of whether you like or hate Neulevel or ICANN).
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re: Did Neustar Try to Shaft Competing Roots?
    by trademarklawyer on Wednesday March 27 2002, @08:02AM (#5584)
    User #3282 Info
    Knowing Neustar as I do, I think they are simply trying to leverage the investment made in .biz. I doubt they even considered if alternate roots would be impacted. (these alt roots are not on their radar screen)
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    OpenNIC is in the same boat.
    by Undecided on Wednesday March 27 2002, @12:10PM (#5595)
    User #3285 Info
    They took a vote on which .biz to accept last year. I wonder what they'll do about this.

    (I'm not too broken up over this, personally, since I've never had reason to look at a site in either .biz gTLD. So far, both .biz's are full of junk.)

    By the way, the link to ORSC paper isn't working. Somebody fix that! I want to read it, damn it!
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    • link by fnord Wednesday March 27 2002, @12:34PM
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