Replacing the domain name system? A modest proposal

Recent press coverage after the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference in early April of 2000 has talked about a proposal I advanced during a workshop I organized. The workshop was designed to encourage programmers, systems architects, and usability experts to produce software which directly enhanced civil liberties. One proposal of mine, in particular, has garnered a lot of interest -- specifically, a project to replace the domain name system because of its current poor political properties, which encourage land-grabs, coercion, lawsuits, and other antisocial behavior. The replacement suggests, among other things, that a system in which all names are not guaranteed unique until further disambiguated might solve some of these problems, without (one hopes) insurmountable technical or sociologic problems taking their place.

Many people have written to me as a result of this asking for more information.

We've made available most of the information we distributed before the workshop, including the original call for submissions, biographies of the participants, and the suggested projects we discussed (of which the DNS replacement was 50% of the discussion time; getting cash to the net fast, and encouraging businesses to be socially responsible, were the other two discussion topics and given 25% of the time each). The suggested projects were not publicly available until now -- they were used a few months in advance by the workshop participants to generate ideas, and the participants also had access to a mailing list to discuss them.

We also have reasonably-complete sets of notes that came out of the workshop available for perusal, and will eventually have a mailing list for those who would like to join in a technical discussion of how to accomplish this goal. Check back. Both this text and the site will be updated when those materials are available.

If you're interested in joining the mailing list, please let me know, but you should also continue to check the website for updates.

Lenny Foner
Last modified: Sat Apr 14 16:06:53 EDT 2001