Will DHS actions inspire a successor to DNS?

In light of recent Department of Homeland Security efforts to seize domain names, and the COICA Internet Censorship and Copyright Bill being considered in Congress, I wonder if it's time to consider alternatives to the hierarchical nature of DNS as it exists today. Do we really want something so fundamental to be so susceptible to government control?

Two recent postings on slashdot lend support this idea:
Peter Sunde Wants To Create Alternative To ICANN
Chinese DNS Tampering a Real Threat To Outsiders

So, consider the technology behind these open source projects:

1) Peer-to-peer electronic cash system Bitcoin (wikipedia)

2) spam and denial of service counter-measure tool Hashcash (wikipedia)

The goals of both projects are different from what I'm suggesting here (a Peer-to-Peer DNS), but they're both examples of proof-of-work systems. In brief, it's a system that allows a loose network of peers to keep a record that can only be disputed by a sufficiently large attacker.

I think a sufficiently large proof-of-work, peer-to-peer network could serve as an alternative to DNS.

Wikipedia's Bitcoin article has this to say about it's security:

For an attacker to manipulate the record, he must outpace all of the other nodes on the network to produce the longest proof-of-work. This becomes exponentially more difficult as time passes, because such "tampered" chains would continuously be rejected by nodes attempting to build a valid chain.

From Bitcoin's whitepaper:

...a peer-to-peer network using proof-of-work to record a public history of transactions
that quickly becomes computationally impractical for an attacker to change if honest nodes
control a majority of CPU power.

The "record" and "transactions" in this case would be hostname-to-IP-address mappings (the service that DNS provides).

Imagine a Firefox or Chrome plugin that could turn every willing browser into both a client and server for this service (a node within such a network). Sufficient adoption (if installed by default on these browsers) could go a long way to preventing corruption or control of something so vital. Perhaps it could exist alongside the existing DNS hierarchy, to "seed" it before it acquires the necessary critical mass.

So, is anyone inspired to morph either of these projects into this vision?

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Then they will start to grab servers

DNS is just low hanging fruit. Remove that and expect a more strong armed approach. Grabbing DNS just saves them the time and expense of rooting out the servers hosting the content they find so objectionable.

The larger concern is not the technology, it is the action of grabbing.

I have been very interested

I have been very interested in creating communication networks that would survive a disruption to infrastructure. Bypassing DNS is a good start, but your still using corporate/government held data lines, which at any point could become inoperable due to terrorist attacks (ie. government intervention).

Some things I have been looking into as a replacement: wireless mesh networks and data via Ham radio.

There are some obvious issues, such as susceptibility to ECM and radio triangulation (thanks, FCC) but in a pinch burst transmissions are relatively safe to make and ECM can be disabled.


Scalping_Elmo is absolutely right. If they can't grab your domain name, they will grab your IP address. From what I understand, IPV4 was given out to regional allocating organizations and large companies. I don't know about IPV6. Then your next struggle will be the physical line owners. A move to wireless is necessary. Perhaps some satellites to make it stronger, but maybe you need a license for that also.

No guarantee of safety

Of course, if the US government can't grab an IP address, they claim the right to send a SWAT team to seize a server through asset forfeiture, or even assassinate the distributor or author of the offending information by executive order.

But by marginally making it more difficult for the US government to stop the flow of information, you increase the cost of secrecy. Since keeping any secret generally involves keeping a periphery of other secrets ("oh, what a tangled web we weave..."), a high cost to secrecy may force institutions to operate under the assumption that any act may become known and need to be defended in the court of public opinion.