Administration says Internet reconfiguration was rogue test February 4, 1998 Web posted at: 9:29 p.m. EST (0229 GMT) WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Clinton administration said Wednesday it was confident a researcher in California won't repeat his rogue reconfiguration of the Internet -- a test that few users noticed but that raised concerns about how the worldwide network is run. Jon Postel, who runs the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority at the University of Southern California under a Defense Department contract, last week redirected half the Internet's 12 directory-information computers to his own system. Normally, those so-called "root servers" help users find addresses on the Internet by pulling data from Network Solutions Inc., a private company in northern Virginia that operates under a federal government contract. Postel, who did not return telephone or e-mail messages, told federal officials afterward he was running a test to see how smoothly such a transition could be made. Under a plan released last Friday by the administration, the government would end its responsibility of assigning and maintaining Internet addresses and turn the role over to a private, nonprofit organization that doesn't yet exist. Postel's test "was not, in effect, an attempt to hijack the Net," White House policy adviser Ira Magaziner said Wednesday at a conference of Internet executives. Magaziner, who described Postel as "a crucial player" in the future of the Internet, said Postel had promised not to repeat the test. But Magaziner also criticized its timing, coming so close to the release of the long-anticipated Internet plan. Groups affiliated with Postel have been critical of the proposal. "We thought the timing was a bit dicey," Magaziner said. "He said, 'Yeah, that wasn't the right time to do it.' ... I'd give him a bit of slack." Questions about authorization for such actions can be hard to answer because the Internet still largely operates on an ad-hoc consensus among academics and researchers. Postel gave no prior notification. "It's caused a good deal of uncertainty and perceived instability in the system," said Chris Clough, a spokesman for Network Solutions, which operates under a contract with the National Science Foundation. "It's a concern about who can authorize changes over the infrastructure and traffic patterns of the Internet." Officials said the six directory computers still haven't been redirected back to Network Solutions. Becky Burr, associate administrator of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said that was expected to take several more days. Copyright 1998 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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