March 17, 2014
The Internet is a way too powerful tool to be left unchecked. A lot of people have been saying that, but for the majority of those instances wherein similar statements were spoken, many people have been wondering, who really does have control of the Internet? The truth is going to sound like some conspiracy theory hatched straight out of The X-Files, until you realise that it is actually far less ominous that it is supposed to be.
Apparently, the Internet, the entire Internet, is controlled by seven keys. Those seven keys have key holders, and those key holders come from separate parts of the world. Those seven parts of the world are the United States, the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, China, the Czech Republic and Burkina Faso. They comprise the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and their primary role is to safeguard the Internet’s seven keys. Take note, these are actual keys.
This group is responsible for assigning numerical Internet addresses to their websites. Essentially, every website has a numerical value, and ICANN translates that into the names of the website. Remember that considering the ICANN has the keys to the database concerning all of the websites on the Internet, if anyone could gain access to them would definitely be in a position to bring down the whole thing. You might be smirking to yourself at this point now, thinking that there really is a drastic impact if people took over the Internet, aside from the lack of Facebook games, and cat videos. You are going to have to remember the vast amount of information, both personal and corporate, that passes through the Internet on a daily basis, the sensitive information saved on virtual memory, passwords, online transactions, every activity done online can be accessed by, manipulated, and generally used for no good by people who are up to no good.
With this potentially devastating weapon and the possibility of it falling into the wrong hands is the reason why the ICANN has designated key holders from different countries. This prevents the possibility of only one person from one country having control of the whole thing.
Aside from the seven key holders, there are also seven backup key holders, making it a total of 14 people from different countries having power over a tool used by the majority of the population of the whole planet. If that is not dispersed enough, the keys themselves are a bit complicated.
The keys the main key holders have open up deposit boxes distributed around the world. In each of the deposit boxes is a smart keycard. These seven smart keycards form the master key. Essentially, the key holders hold the key to the key that is part of a larger key. The backup key holders, on the other hand, have a piece of code that when combined, generates a replacement key. These holders have to send daily pictures of themselves, carrying the day’s paper, in order to ensure the group that they are well.
Such measures, which can be considered to be extreme but not really illogical, are all taken in order to ensure the safety of the Internet. One interesting note is that these key holders meet once in a while in order to create a new key. This “ceremony” happens around four times a year.
This whole thing may seem like a very serious ordeal, and it actually is, but when you look at the people involved, they are just a bunch of your typical computer wizards that would not be out of place in any corporate office. Reading through the entire process and the details of the security measures these people take, though, you would expect them to be wearing minion uniforms or whatnot.
Looking at what the ICANN stands for, it is very reassuring to know that such a high level of security have been taken and an equal distribution of power among key holders have been implemented. After all, it only seems fitting that this is shared by people from several nations, considering the global use of the Internet. What’s amusing about ICANN is that in all of the years that the Internet has been up, it is only fairly recently that they have been given attention. A movie about ICANN would be really cool, after all.