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Agile Computing: Article

P2P Web Promises Many Freedoms - Part 2/3

BitTorrent Technology the Key Enabler

Author's Note:  In Part 1 we examined the events leading up to the creation of Dot-P2P, the planned alternative peer-to-peer Domain Name System.  Here we will take a look at the existing Internet DNS and how Dot-P2P aims to compete with it.

The current Domain Name System (DNS) is overseen by the US Government-sanctioned Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and operated by a handful of designated companies.  One of the most important of these is VeriSign, which manages the all-important .com, and .net top level domains, operates two of the Internet's thirteen name servers, and is the sole maintainer of the Internet's root zone file, which is to the Internet what the C: drive directory is to your computer.

The Internet, as we know it now, is a collection of publically and privately owned physical networks on which these organizations together currently have the power to grant the IP addresses that are used to identify the switches, routers, computers, and, of course web sites, as well as the names for web sites within the generic top-level domains - .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, and .mil - as well as the country code TLDs, e.g. .it, .ca, .uk, etc., and other, more specialized domain names.  These organizations also manage and control the actual server computers on which all those names are stored and that maintain the association between domain names and IP addresses.  Knowing all that, it is easy to see how the US government has the power to seize domains, as they have done recently and will be able to do even more easily if COICA passes.

In the Goals section on their website under the heading "Why", Dot-P2P sums it up like this:

"VeriSign is the sole maintainer of the Internet's root zone file and they process all changes to it. The authorities (such as ICANN) in charge of the various top level domains request changes to the root zone file which must be approved by the US Department of Commerce. If approved, the Commerce Department then instructs VeriSign to make the change."

Dot-P2P aims to create and manage a new top level domain, ".p2p" that would operate completely outside the ICANN/VeriSign system.  They will grant unique website domain names, e.g. "mysite.p2p" for free to all who request them, and will probably work with the existing OpenNIC alternative DNS network to resolve those names to the IP addresses for the servers on which the sites run.

Outlining their specific goals and approach, Dot-P2P offers these statements:

"Create an application that runs as a service and hooks into the host's DNS system to catch all requests to the .p2p TLD while passing all other requests cleanly through. Requests for the .p2p TLD will be redirected to a locally hosted DNS database.

"By creating a .p2p TLD that is distributed and that does not rely on ICANN to issue domains, or any ISP's DNS service to resolve the domains, and by having this application mimic force-encrypted bittorrent traffic, there will be a way to start combating DNS level based censoring like the new US proposals as well as those systems in use in countries around the world including China and Iran amongst others."

"We currently believe the best way to create a stable environment for TLDs is to enact a central authority. We know this will cause much argument within the community, but we have made the decision that we believe will be best for the continued development of this project."

That last one is especially important.  The disagreement they are anticipating concerning a central authority relates to the fact that the way BitTorrent currently works there is no single authority.  Instead, it employs a scheme for granting access based on a "web of trust" that depends on voting among a group of individuals and the network physically functions using thousands of redundant and overlapping "tracker" systems to coordinate communications between peer nodes.  This feature is one the things that make BitTorrent efficient and evasive; without it, some users fear that the Dot-P2P may be vulnerable to government intervention, the very thing it aims to prevent.

In the next and final part of this article, we will examine how Dot-P2P aims to address that issue and how current geopolitics may help them out.

More Stories By Tim Negris

Tim Negris is SVP, Marketing & Sales at Yottamine Analytics, a pioneering Big Data machine learning software company. He occasionally authors software industry news analysis and insights on Ulitzer.com, is a 25-year technology industry veteran with expertise in software development, database, networking, social media, cloud computing, mobile apps, analytics, and other enabling technologies.

He is recognized for ability to rapidly translate complex technical information and concepts into compelling, actionable knowledge. He is also widely credited with coining the term and co-developing the concept of the “Thin Client” computing model while working for Larry Ellison in the early days of Oracle.

Tim has also held a variety of executive and consulting roles in a numerous start-ups, and several established companies, including Sybase, Oracle, HP, Dell, and IBM. He is a frequent contributor to a number of publications and sites, focusing on technologies and their applications, and has written a number of advanced software applications for social media, video streaming, and music education.

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