Who really owns the internet? I would guess the pentagon since it is the internet’s
official birthplace?

not to get philosphical on you, but no, the pentagon does not own the Internet as far as I can figue. The ARPAnet was dismantled (outdated). You can’t own the internet, you can only own a)servers b)routers c)cables to carry information.

Each person who owns either a) b) or c) owns part of the internet. Obviously, that includes ISP’s, telecommunications companies, individuals, corporations. Each owning and operating their own little chunk.

Amazing no?

Anyone disagree?

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No disagreement here. In fact, I’ll get even more philosopical and say there is no “Internet”, at least as a physical entity.

Let’s compare the Internet to the standard on-line service like AOL, CompuServe or Prodigy. Each of these has a set of computers and servers somewhere which their customers access through phone lines or networks. There is a physical place where these services exist; you can point to a building and say “That’s AOL” for example.

You can’t do that with the Internet. The Internet is simply a (large) collection of computers, servers and routers whose owners have agreed to allow to communicate with each other using a standard communications protocol. These individual entities may be universities, government agencies, corporations, ISPs or just an old 386 stuck in someone’s basement. As long as they are connected and communicate with each other using the standard Internet Protocol (IP) they are part of the Internet.

“You can’t run away forever; but there’s nothing wrong with getting a good head start.” — Jim Steinman

Dennis Matheson —
Hike, Dive, Ski, Climb —

Yah. It’s just like Milo Minderbinder’s M&M Enterprises. Everybody has a share.

A third grader in Omaha, Nebraska.

OK I was just kidding. According to Laura Lemay’s book, “Teach Yourself Web Publishing” no one owns the internet or the WWW.

But for all your conspiracy buffs out there there are three groups who are very influential in setting the protocols used in internet communication.

One is the World Wide Web (W3) Consortium, based at MIT in the U.S. and INRIA in Eurpope. Their main job is setting HTML code and http, and providing some software so everyone can use the internet.

The other two groups are Microsoft and Netscape, since they manufacture the two browsers that everyone uses. Their products allow users to “see” the internet, so without their input, we’d still be using carrier pigeon.

Then what is to stop anyone from creating their own domains?

Let’s say, for example, that is not in use yet. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I didn’t try it. But suppose it’s not. What is to stop anyone from setting it up? The USA government allows one specific private company (whose name I’ve forgotten) to be in charge of who owns (leases?) each domain. If no one owns the Internet, then what technical abilities does that company have? Is it impossible to set up other domains?

Similarly, countries outside the US have 2-letter suffixes, such as “.au” for Australia, and “.fr” for France. Let’s find one which is not in use, and set up a domain like “”

Why not? How can they stop us?

(I am making any sense?)

There’s another element I’d throw in there: Cisco routers.

According to their advertising (which, of course, is open to speculation), their routers are used to route the lion’s share of Internet traffic. It’s practically a standard.

Servers come in all sorts of hardware and software flavors. There are too many ISPs to shake a stick at. Governments around the globe all have an interest in the Internet. Telco companies are hopping on the bandwagon.

But one company supplies the routers - a crucial piece of hardware - for virtually every Internet connection there is.


“Knowing others is wisdom. Knowing yourself is enlightenment.” - Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher

theuglytruth was writing at the same time I was. Thanks. The name of the group is the W3 Consortium. So now I can phrase my question a little better:

Do they do their stuff simply by mutual consensus, or do they have a way of enforcing their rules?

(Also, everyone should remember that the Web and the Internet are NOT the same thing. For example, email can run on the Internet, totally independently of the Web, and it has been doing so since before the Web was around. And the future may bring even bigger advances.)

Everyone? I’m using Opera as my browser.

[Chalk me up as another one who’s not using either Netscape or IE ]

Keeves asks, “Then what is to stop anyone from creating their own domains?”

Well, here’s how it works, at least from a 30000-foot view. Routing really happens by IP addresses, not domain names. IP addresses look like: (which is the loopback address). When you computer needs to know what IP address goes with, it uses a service called DNS, or Domain Name Service. DNS hasn’t always been around; for a long time on the internet, you had to use UUCP style addresses that specified the entire path from you to your destination. They looked like a bunch of machine names separated by ! characters, like foobar!somemachine!someothermachine!somethirdmachine, and would break if any machine in the middle were taken offline.

Now, your computer doesn’t know every domain name in the world and it’s associated IP address(s), so it asks your ISP’s DNS server. Your ISP’s DNS server caches a bunch of them, but it doesn’t know everything either, so sometimes it asks a higher level, smarter DNS server, and so on until reaching a top level, really smart DNS server.

So, you could, technically, start your own DNS server and add whatever domains you want to it, but since nobody but you will be using that DNS server, your newly created domain won’t be visible to anyone else in the world who’s not using that DNS server.

Hope this answers your question,


And so who runs the “top level reaaly smart” one? If someone at that outfit got nasty, they could really mess things up for everyone, couldn’t they?

Keeves asks, “And so who runs the “top level reaaly smart” one?”

Well, in the past up until roughly now, that would be the InterNic, c/o Network Solutions, Inc, who had a US-government federally mandated monopoly on the matter. (Yes, the internet is international, but in the early days it was developed purely in the US with US government money, so there was no involvement of other countries in this). However, this is changing; first of all, since it is now worldwide, having the only top level domain registration be based in the US doesn’t sit well with Europeans and Asian countries, so there is a process going on currenly to allow for more top level domain registration services. I bevieve there is at least one, and possibly several, other competing ones up and running at the present time.

> If someone at that outfit got nasty, they could really mess things up for everyone, couldn’t they?

Oh yeah! You’re quite right. In fact, a little while back, there was a big flap due to someone, in a purely benevolent manner, replacing a top level DNS server with his own. He did this for testing purposes and not maliciously, but it underscored just how fragile the system really is.

The popular statement saying, “the internet was designed to withstand a nuclear war, and you can’t really take it down” holds true in some ways, but definately not in others. In some ways it is extremely robust, and in other ways, it is equally fragile.

k0myers (just call me mr network-dude :slight_smile:

Oh, here’s another tidbit I forgot to add to my last reply. It may be interesting, or, I suppose, it may bore the crap out of you, I’m not sure :slight_smile:

Before DNS was around, there was a time when machines still had domain names. But since there was no central authority for managing them, it was an ad-hoc system where every machine on the net (primarily Unix systems at the time) would try to resolve domain names by looking at a file on its local hard disk.

Well, this worked, but the obvious problems were that (1) the database could get really big, and (2) it usually only had entries for the particular organization that owned the machine, and (3) since it was typically stored on every individual machine, it was a real headache to maintain, since a new machine added to some company’s inventory of machines would require propegating a new hosts table to every other machine they owned.

When this system was around, a machine in company A might know about most of company A’s other machines, but not about machines in company B. So, you couldn’t necessary send mail directly to somebody elsewhere on the net. But there were a number of “well known” machines around that most systems knew about, and mail was routed by specifying a path through these well known machines from you to your intended recipient. At that time (which really wasn’t too long ago), you commonly saw people give their email addresses as, for instance, …!uunet!!hplabs!john_smith. Sometimes these got quite long!

Fortunately, some smart people got together and addressed this issue. In my opinion, DNS was one of the key enabling technologies that has allowed the internet to become the mass medium that it is today.