Saturday, August 12, 2006

First post

Who owns the internet? It occurred to me today that I don't know, but somebody must somehow, because you pay rent on websites you operate. And there are companies that buy domain names then sell them to you, but who do they pay? I'm sure someone smarter than me knows. But why is the internet a capitalist commodity anyway?


Mostafa said...

Oh I can answer that. Sort of.
Good news is: no one really owns the internet. It's just a collection of connected computers. When you type in, your computer asks some special computer it knows called a DNS server (well, the internet company told your computer that) where this google is, and then it asks its nearest neighbour to deliver a request to google, which in turn asks its nearest neighbour to do that, and so on until this request gets to google. The computers in the middle keep passing messages back and forth like that. That's the idea anyway.
Bad news is: that's not really true. The DNS servers (there are a lot of them) all have their local copies of where everything is, but they get updated mainly from a not-for-profit US organization called ICANN. ICANN owns the .com domain, and it gets registeries like Veritel to sell them for it. Also, each country owns its own domain (Egypt is .eg, England is .uk, etc.). So ICANN pretty much owns the web names.
But it's not just that. ICANN owns the names, but not the traffic. Theoretically no-one owns the traffic, but really there are a set of big companies, called first-level transporters or something like that, that own most of the computers in the middle. So whenever some internet company wants to connect to the internet, it has to connect to one of those. I think there are five major ones (not entirely sure). So in a sense they own the bulk of the internet.

Christian said...

Do I smell disdain for Capitalism?

Occasional art, comics, food, and other things of less interest to the general public.