Report: What is the Internet

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  Operating the net: overview

The Net consists of thousands of thousands of governmental and private networks linked together. No legal authority determines how and where networks can be connected together, this is something the managers of networks have to agree about. So there is no way of ever gaining ultimate control of the Internet. Although each of these networks is operated and controlled by an organization, no single organization operates and controls the Net. Instead of a central authority governing the Net, several bodies assure the operability of the Net by developing and setting technical specifications for the Net and by the control of the technical key functions of the Net as the coordination of the domain name system and the allocation of IP numbers.

Originally, the Net was a research project funded and maintained by the US Government and developed in collaboration by scientists and engineers. As the standards developed for ensuring operability ensued from technical functionality, technical coordination gradually grew out of necessity and was restricted to a minimum and performed by volunteers.

Later, in the 1980s, those occupied with the development of technical specifications organized themselves under the umbrella of the Internet Society in virtual organizations as the Internet Engineering Task Force, which were neither officially established nor being based on other structures than mailing lists and commitment, but nonetheless still serve as task forces for the development of standards ensuring the interoperability on the Net.

Since the late 80s and the early 90s, with the enormous growth of the Net - which was promoted by the invention of Local Area Networks, the creation of the World Wide Web, the increased use of personal computers and the connecting of corporations to the Net, just to name a few - coordination of some technical key functions as the domain name system was handed over to corporations as Network Solutions Inc.

Since the year 2000, a new model for technical coordination has been emerging: Formerly performed by several bodies, technical coordination is transferred to a single non-governmental organization: the Internet Coordination of Assigned Numbers and Names.

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What is the Internet
-4   What is the Internet?
-3   How the Internet works
-2   Acessing the Internet
-1   Internet services
0   Operating the net: overview
+1   Who owns the Internet and who is in charge?
+2   Internet, Intranets, Extranets, and Virtual Private Networks
+3   In Search of Reliable Internet Measurement Data
+4   Global Data Flows