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What is InterNIC?

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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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Internet Network Information Center (InerNIC) was once the managing body for domain names and Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, but its duties were assumed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on 18 September 1998. The InterNIC website now functions as an informational outlet to educate the public about domain name registration.

InterNIC is just one of many entities that had a hand in shaping the Internet. The roots of the Internet go back to the ARPANET, a research and development project funded by the United States Department of Defense in the 1960s, intended to create a redundant network without a central hub or head. In a catastrophic disaster such as an atomic strike, the network would allow military and governmental agencies a vital path for communications.

ARPANET development and its evolution into the Internet involved a plethora of academic and corporate participants, beginning with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); the University of Utah; the Universities of California in Berkeley, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles; the Standford Research Institute (SRI), and the System Development Corporation, among others. As ARPANET grew, the Department of Defense contracted third party organizations, (which often sub-contracted to other organizations), to run logistical needs such as assigning domain names and IPs, and undertaking the development of more efficient ways to handle these tasks.

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The Network Information Center (NIC) located at SRI was the first body created to oversee network logistics. NIC was later replaced by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) in 1972.

By 1992, most of the growth of the Internet was in the non-military sector, and a bidding war ensued to take on all non-military registration administration, relieving the Department of Defense from funding non-military growth. The US National Science Foundation (NSF) won this bidding war.

NSF in turn created InterNIC in 1993 to take over domain name and IP address management. NSF contracted out the three main areas of administration: registration, database and informational services. These went to Network Solutions, AT&T and General Atomics, respectively. General Atomics was soon disqualified over contractual disputes, and AT&T assumed informational services.

By 1998 ICANN reorganized IANA and InterNIC, and the task of managing domain names was opened to privatized organizations to encourage competition. This move was highly controversial and was the source of much online debate.

Today, InterNIC is still operated by ICANN. Visitors can use the site to research domain ownership through the Whois database, or to file a Data Problem Report Form for notifying InterNIC of inaccurate entries. The Accredited Registrar Directory provides contact details for registrars, and the Registrar Problem Report Form can be used to file a complaint against a registrar.

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