John C Klensin klensin at jck.com
Sat Dec 5 00:34:30 CET 2009

--On Thursday, December 03, 2009 07:03 -0800 Erik van der Poel
<erikv at google.com> wrote:

> If some part of the United States government mandated that we
> distinguish polish.com from Polish.com, we would politely
> explain that it is too late to make such a change to the
> Internet.

While I wouldn't go quite as far as Eric did in his note
responding to yours (please note "quite" -- where he and I
disagree, the differences may be more of perspective than
substance), I think you are mischaracterizing even the example
above.  Depending on the "part of the United States government"
involved and how determined they were, our "polite explanation"
might be met with a demand that we explain why it would be
_impossible_.   It isn't impossible.  It would have very nasty
costs, a hard and time-consuming transition (think about
updating every full-service resolver and maybe most or all of
the stub ones too), and some bad side effects, but there are a
couple of pretty obvious ways to do it.  

So we would politely explain the tradeoffs and then we would go
home and offer fervent prayers that they didn't say "do it
anyway, people will just need to live with the costs".

And that is precisely why it is bad news to start making
decisions in this sort of area that are conditioned on beliefs
about what governments won't do.    Let me try a fictitious
example to illustrate.  Suppose there is some character that is
necessary to write Lower Slobbovian that we DISALLOW because
decisions about IDNA2003 make it inconvenient.   The Lower
Slobbovian government comes to us and says "that character is
really important, you need to allow it or give us a really good
reason why not".  We say "well, even if we permit it, Microsoft
IE, Firefox, Opera, and Safari won't support it because they
will continue mapping it to 'xxx', and we didn't permit it
because of that expectation".    They say "leave that to us".
What they then do is to find one browser, perhaps Weasel (the
internationalized version of Lynx) and fix (or fork) it so that
it supports their favorite character, after which they go to the
Slobbovian Regional Competitiveness and Human Rights Commission
and say "Microsoft is being anti-competitive and disrespectful
of Slobbovian culture by conspiring with Firefox, Opera, and
Safari to put Weasel out of business and prevent us from using
our language properly for no reason except to further their
conspiracy  and show their contempt of us.

I don't know what would happen next in that scenario, but I
assume it would not be pretty.


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