3.4 Conclusion

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The key question with respect to the DNS root is, Who (or what) gets to determine the contents of the root zone file? There are three distinct ways of answering that question. Two rely on market processes, the third relies on collective action.

  • Firms can compete for the right to be the authoritative source of the DNS root zone information and accept some degree of fragmentation or incompatibility in exchange for a possible gain in innovation and functionality. Alternatively, the result may be a privately negotiated compatibility agreement among the multiple competitors, in which they agree to coordinate the contents of their root zone files to achieve a certain level of universal compatibility.

  • Another possibility, which may be the inevitable outcome of the first, is to allow the private marketplace to converge on a single winner. In that case, the winner of the right to define the root zone file may be a private, for-profit firm that achieves lasting dominance, like Microsoft's command of the operating system. This could also produce a succession of 'serial monopolies.'

  • A formal institutional solution could be created based on collective action. In this case the contents of the root zone file would be determined by a specialized authority, generally a nonprofit, controlled by specified governance structures and publicly formulated rules.

Subsequent chapters will show that, in the turmoil surrounding the institutionalization of the Internet from 1995 to 2000, all three options were on the table.

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Ruling the Root(c) Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace
Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace
ISBN: 0262134128
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 110

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