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China Denies Plans To Split Internet

Posted by inet - 2006-03-06

Recent reports that China is creating its own version of the Internet are being denied by the country's China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). In news reports from Beijing, the CNNIC has clarified that there is no separate Chinese Internet in the works, and no new top-level domains.
The misunderstanding came as a result of an article in the China People's Daily, which noted that the country's Ministry of Information Industry had changed China's domain-name system. Supposedly, China was working on its own top-level domains that would parallel .com, .net, and others.

The article stated that Chinese Internet users would be able to access an Internet not managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ( ICANN).

Analysts expressed worry that such a shift not only would give China even greater control over censoring content from its Internet users, but also would lead to domain-routing headaches for ICANN, VeriSign, and others responsible for maintaining the integrity of the domain-name system.

Domain Masters

As soon as the People's Daily article appeared, ICANN officials were told by the CNNIC that there might have been a misunderstanding about work being done with second-level domains as opposed to top-level domains like .com.

The new second-level domains, which are geared for China's provinces and regions, still would appear under the three existing top-level domains of .cn, .com, and .net. These top-level domains have been in place in China since 2002.

In clarifying its new domain strategy, the CNNIC emphasized that China will continue to operate under ICANN management, with no plans to bypass the organization.

Curious Moves

A recent proposal between ICANN and VeriSign, which would cause price changes for domain names if it is accepted, came at the same time as the reports of China seeking to develop its own Internet.

The two stories together could show growing unrest over ICANN's management of the Internet.

"China wouldn't be alone in wanting something that isn't controlled by ICANN," said John Berard, spokesperson for the Coalition for ICANN Transparency. "Other countries have also expressed dissatisfaction with the way things are being handled."

Even if the reports about China do prove to be untrue, many believe that the current proposal with VeriSign will cause more scrutiny of ICANN, with further discussion about how the Internet is controlled.

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