The Internet remains one of the few communication tools that has avoided falling entirely under the state’s control. This is likely due to its decentralized nature. Unlike communication systems of yore that relied on centrally managed systems the Internet was designed to avoid centralization. Anybody can setup and run a web server, e-mail server, instant messenger server, etc. As it currently stands one of the central points of failure that still remain is the Domain Name System (DNS). DNS is the system that translates human readable uniform resource locators (URL), such as christopherburg.com, to addresses understood by computers.
Most people rely on the DNS servers provided by centrally managed authorities such as their Internet service provider (ISP) or other companies such as Google or OpenDNS. Unfortunately these centralized agencies are central points the state can use to censor or otherwise control the Internet. The United States government has exploited this vulnerability in order to enforce copyright laws and it is likely they will exploit this vulnerability to censor other content they deem undesirable. Thankfully there is no reason we have to rely on centralized DNS servers. DNS, like every other protocol that makes up the Internet as we know it, was designed in a way that doesn’t require central authorities. Enter OpenNIC, a decentralized DNS.
I haven’t had much time to experiment with OpenNIC so it may not even be a viable solution to the centralized nature of DNS but it looks promising. OpenNIC is a network of DNS servers that not only resolve well-known top level domains (TLD) but also resolves OpenNIC specific TLDs such as .pirate. Since the system is decentralized there are no single points of failure that can be easily exploited by the state. I plan on experimenting with OpenNIC to see how well it works and, if it works for my needs, switching over to it for my domain name needs. I’ll also write a followup post overviewing my experience with the system and whether or not I can recommend it for general usage. It is my hope that OpenNIC will serve the purpose of avoiding the state’s influence over DNS and thus assist those of us who are actively fighting against the state.