Guest post by John Demco: 25 years of .CA

One Comment

In this post John Demco, a CIRA Board of Directors member and known to many as Canada’s ‘godfather’ of the Internet, discusses the first 25 years of .CA.

It has been 25 years since Jon Postel, operator of Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), delegated the .CA domain extension to my responsibility. At the time, I was working for the University of British Columbia, and ran the .CA registry with a small group of volunteers. Though it’s an enjoyable experience for me to look back on those times, I’d also like to take this opportunity to discuss just how far .CA has come over the past quarter century.

When I think about it, the world of technology has changed dramatically since 1987. There have been remarkable changes in CPU size and speed, memory, disk storage, network bandwidth, and so on. If we assume Moore’s Law to be correct, computer technology has come a very long way in the past 25 years (in fact, it would have grown by a multiple of more than 5,000). And while Internet access in Canada in 1987 was virtually unknown, the Internet is now accessible in eight out of 10 Canadian households. It has also become very much a global entity, playing a significant role in enhancing the economies of many nations, and in the spread of democracy.

With all of the good, we’ve seen some less than good things come as a result of the tremendous growth of the Internet. For example, the proliferation of cyber-crime, evidenced recently by the high-profile DNS Changer virus, and the emergence of Internet technologies as tools for war and terrorism. And, we are having to rethink how we view privacy with the emergence of social media.

To say that the Internet touches the lives of every Canadian in one way or another is not exaggeration, and that’s one of the reasons I feel fortunate to have spent the last 25 years working with .CA.

I believe .CA is in a better position than at any other time in its history. We’re about to reach two million .CA domains registered, a major milestone. CIRA is the 14th largest country-code registry in the world, and .CA is the fourth fastest growing top-level domain. With CIRA, we have a world-class organization with excellent staff, management and Board of Directors. CIRA is recognized by its global counterparts as being one of the most respected registries, with top notch technical infrastructure and operations and a commitment to working with its stakeholders. The Canadian Internet Forum (CIF) is a shining example of how CIRA is trying to bring the discussion about the development of the Internet to all Canadians.

We’ve managed to keep CIRA at the cutting edge of Internet technologies. CIRA is currently working on implementing Internationalized Domain Names, an initiative that will see French language characters in .CA domain names. And, we’ll be enabling DNSSEC later this year, contributing to the safety and security of Canada’s Internet.

It has been a great pleasure and privilege to have been involved with .CA since its beginning. The one constant throughout has been the great people who have worked so hard for the best interest of Canada’s Internet community. .CA is more than a top-level domain. It really is Canada’s online identity.

It was tremendously exciting in 1987, and it’s just as exciting now. Fact is, it may be even more exciting in the future.

Share on Tumblr
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003406401986 Sabbir

    Hi Frank,I’m uncertain which ‘regulatory’ potsiions I’m strongly advocating for. As I see it, there are a few things CIRA needs to do:(1) start very publicly making a lot of noise around domain hijacks if it is going to truly support the rollout of DNSSEC. Make clear that Internet security is something CIRA cares about, puts resources into, and that is being stymied by ISPs.(2) Make very clear what, precisely, is meant in its discussions of censorship of domains for criminal purposes. Make very, very clear what it means in reference to copyright legislation. This may involve public potsiions and statements to clarify these issues: I see no reason why the board cannot produce such potsiions and statements.(3) Strongly and loudly advocate against unilateral domain seizures. Recognize that advocacy must extend to domains held by Canadians, not just the dot-.ca registries. At present I’m unaware of CIRA making any public noises about this. This isn’t necessarily something CIRA can fix but it can advocate against these practices and draw attention to what is happening. This might involve speaking out against this at international meetings that CIRA representatives attend, commenting to the Canadian media, and generally communicating to the membership about the problems. Similar strong advocacy processes could be put in place for other issues I note.As it stands, neither Industry Canada nor the CRTC are particularly involved in several of the issues that I raise. Several of these issues speak to the competencies of CIRA; I don’t know why the organization shouldn’t take advantage of its expertise and proudly lead on issues that are near and dear to its issue and principles portfolio. Someone has to lead: why shouldn’t CIRA?