Collaboration

Should the United States control the Internet?

Next week in Brazil, a group of 2,000 businessmen, government workers, and concerned citizens will meet to talk about the future of the Internet. Though the forum was supposed to focus on spam, free speech, and cheaper 'net access, it appears that there will be a lot of talk about the control that the United States has when it comes to the Internet, particularly the root DNS servers.

Next week in Brazil, a group of 2,000 businessmen, government workers, and concerned citizens will meet to talk about the future of the Internet. Though the forum was supposed to focus on spam, free speech, and cheaper Net access, it appears that there will be a lot of talk about the control that the United States has when it comes to the Internet, particularly the root DNS servers. The first day of the conference will feature a discussion of "critical Internet resources," though organizers caution that no decisions will be made.

Markus Kummer, the U.N. official who heads the forum's secretariat, said he has tried to temper expectations, stressing that the Tunis document creating the forum ''clearly states it's not here to make decisions.''

''I don't expect the meetings to change the world and come up with some real, major new decision on the re-architecture of this or that,'' Kummer said. ''But I expect interesting meetings and interesting discussions (to improve) understanding of how the Internet works and what can be done to make it safer.''

US Internet Control Lead Topic in Rio (New York Times)

Although there is no way to centrally control all of the sites and servers on the Internet, the United States, through the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), does mete out the limited supply of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and also performs other functions that, until 1998, were handled by a single professor in California. The growing worldwide discontent with ICANN could not have been foreseen 31 years ago when Vint Cerf and Ginny Strazisar used a mobile network node known as the "bread truck" (and a precursor to Wi-Fi) to send data over three disparate networks using a new protocol called the Transmission Control Protocol, or TCP.

Washington Battles the World (ForeignAffairs.org)

How a Bread Truck Invented the Internet (The Register)

I can understand the reasoning behind foreign desire for more control of the Internet, but I definitely think that, for the time being, control should remain within our borders. The main argument for moving control to the U.N. uses the telephone as its greatest example. However, one of the main concerns with the Internet is free speech, an ideal that many governments do not hold as dearly as the United States does. The telephone networks allowed communication, true, but the Internet has the ability to provide for a free flow of ideas that cannot be accomplished as readily with a voice telephone call.

Up until less than a decade ago, a single "ponytailed professor" in California handled all of the functions now handled by ICANN. The U.S. Congress has oversight power over the agency, and the ICANN group tasked with international issues and comprised of foreign delegates (Governmental Advisory Committee) has no power whatsoever. Do you think that the current system is the best to guide the development of the Internet, or do you think that the United States should cede control of the Internet to the U.N.?

47 comments
JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

The reality is that there are few places on the planet where the concept of privacy and "free speech" is as revered as it is here. The UN has been positioning itself for years to the ultimate guardian of the Internet. The UN is hardly interested in ???free speech???. My suggestion would be to let the UN have the Internet only after we???ve invented something better to replace it.

DUNSTON
DUNSTON

Why not? We invented it.

Andy Moon
Andy Moon

Personally, I believe so. There are a lot of countries, China being the best example, that do not value the free flow of ideas that has been an American ideal since its inception. UN control of the Internet may not limit that free expression, but it is possible that some of the member countries might try to push through limits that, in my opinion, should not exist on the 'net. The Internet is like the worldwide equivalent of the "Radio Free Europe" that existed during the Cold War to bring Western ideas to Soviet Bloc countries. These days, even though some countries censor many websites, the 'net opens people up to many ideas that might not exist in their culture. Do you think the US should control the Internet or cede control to the United Nations?

jdclyde
jdclyde

give the UN nothing because they do nothing. It annoys the heck out of me that we pay such a disproportionate share of the bills for the UN, which has become a fairly consistent anti-American group.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You where involved in the lab work that developed the Internet? You had something to do with the bread truck maybe? Wrote some of the TCP protocol and the later IP component did you? "we" meaning you didn't do a damn thing to invent the internet. That was done by very intelligent and well funded people who came long before you. The whole "we invented it, it's our ball and we're going home if you don't play our way" mentality became void and null when it grew into something far greater than DARPAnet and the US borders. If you really believe that, please configure your home network to only access websites located within US borders and leave the rest of the world too the free exchange of ideas and information.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

and prevents other countries from controlling it - make sure run by independent institutions. That would be the only way to keep it from falling into squabbling hands.

wayoutinva
wayoutinva

And what struck me the most was the countries that were pushing for UN control of the internet,,,Lets See I believe North Korea, China, Saudi Arbia, Russia, and I belive a few others, while Canada, Japan and maybe Australia were for keeping it in the US hands...Look at the alignment of countries...both for & against..and then make an informed decision...who has the most to gain by UN control..And remember that the idea of taxing emails has been discussed by the UN as a way to help pay for access in third world countries..And read I said discussed...only

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

If enough people said ah f**k it and ignored ICANN and set up their own 'authority', what would be the impact? You might want to hunt around for more beams before you starting pointing out motes. One of the most famous attempts at censoring the internet, for religious and political reasons was by AOL.... Nasty foreigners eh.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

"Should the US control the Internet" seems to be an argument that comes up ever six months or less. Somehow, it always devolves into "well, we invented the internet so you non-Americans can just get off and go build your own". It's very refreshing to see a more rashional basis for arguing that ICANN should remain within the US. On a technical and structural basis, since most of us here probably understand network topology, the UN is a very valid organization to consider for administering the top most level of network addressing. In a business/organization/any network, your admin (CIO by responsability) has absolute control which is divided up based on structure or responsabilities from there down to the lowly user who *should* only be able to use the issued tools needed for there job. Extending that same IT professional thinking (notice the absence of political faith or patriatism/nationalism), a globally used network's administration should not be with a subset of that network but with the overall governing body. The CIO owns the business network, the UN being the internatinoal version of CEO/CIO type possition should by logical design, own the CIO's responsability in managing the root domains. This has always been my thinking purely based on working logically with computers. They are 1 or 0 not "happy, sad or patriotic" - emotion is irrelevant. With all that though, I had simply assumed that the UN being an international body would uphold freedom of expression. ICANN would simply report into a different governing body and in case of war (heaven forbid), my ISP wouldn't get cut off simply because I'm connecting to the 90% or more of the internet outside US borders (geographically speaking). I still don't think any one country should "own" the root domains of a multi-country network but you raise a good point worth considering. Cheers for offering a valid concern. If anything can screw up a good idea, it's beurocracy and "international diplomacy".

Old Guy
Old Guy

As stated previously, there are some countries who censor anything that does not agree with their regime. Secondly,it was started here and was opened up for the free flow of information to the world. If the other countries don't like this they are certainly welcome to start their own version of and Internet--if that is possible.

sethr
sethr

As far as I'm concerned, the free world created it and we have every right to keep it free and open to all without restrictions.

amj2010
amj2010

We think that it should or an impartial party should run the show in order from. So why not Greece instead of the US?

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

It's become the clearing house for most of the worlds "official" corruption. It also provides well paying jobs with excellent perks for overeducated peoples who wouldn't otherwise be able to make minimum wage doing anything else.

jdclyde
jdclyde

If comes down to a few very simple things. First, before we can fix a problem with "control of the internet", let the people that want change SHOW the following. 1) show a clear problem that exists today 2) show how the proposed change would fix that problem It isn't Americans taking their ball and leaving, it is others crying because they are not able to control/distort the internet to what they think it should be. Well, that and a bunch of people mad because they are irrelevant. The US does not block out discourse or offensive material, but there are a lot of countries out there that do. This is a bullsh1t argument that has no basis, other than to try to gain relevance and try to make the US look bad. Neither are going to happen here.

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

Because we all know now that Al Gore invented the Internet! :)

Inkling
Inkling

Looking at the supporters of an idea is the greatest indicator (in my opinion) on how to judge that idea. For example (without completely derailing this thread and turning it into a discussion on presidential candidates): Look at some of the international supporters of Hillary Clinton!! Hugo Chavez and crew...

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

C'mon, let's see a show of hands...who really trust the U.N. to get anything done? I mean geez, they put Sudan and Libya on the Human Rights committee. There is only one governing body less effective than the US gov't and that's the UN.

lbindustries1
lbindustries1

This kind of an attitude has actually turned a lot of other countries against the US. The simple fact that too many Americans feel that they can do what they want and push their ideals and ideas onto everyone else. The governing body for the internet should be turned over to someone else and not be run by the US.

jdclyde
jdclyde

will always nip at the heals of someone that has something they can only dream of having. I am suspect of anyone that thinks that this should change in any way, because they are going to be hard pressed to prove a REASON to make a change. The US is not directly in control, nor is it limiting what is out there. I know we can not say the same if the corrupt UN were to gain control. The same people that want to make it a CRIME to be a "Global Warming Denier" would surely start to ban any discourse that steps up to balance out some of the extreme intentional misrepresentations on the topic. And then how many countries in the Middle East question IF there really was deathcamps run by Hitler. China and the Soviet Union are not exactly sponsors of human rights and free speech. If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

seanferd
seanferd

Did you notice any disruption when ICANN took over from IANA (and others)? I don't think these countries are interested in restricting freedom. They are interested in maintaining it. If they want to restrict internet freedom, they can do so within their own countries, and some do (China). All nations with access to the internet have their own infrastructure. How long do you think it would take for them to set up their own domain name system etc. and/or cut their end of international cabling if they wanted to?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I also can't agree with the "we made it, you go make your own" basis for argument. It's a very small minded view of the topic.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I had written "fight response" but scrubbed it and started over after reading your last few points and realizing that you where not just comeing out swinging. The second long winded writing was purely to try and clarify my previous points. I missed changing the comment title though which was my bad. While I nearly edited the comment several times to correct the title, you've already read and responded too it so further editing is nof little relevance. Cheers and thanks for not being one of the oneliner seagulls.

Inkling
Inkling

to do a poor job at times of conveying the proper tone of my comments. I'm certainly not "worked up". Nor was I trying to be argumentative. I agree with your basic argument: People using the "we made it, go make your own" argument aren't contributing anything to the conversation. I was just trying to bring up the few points you made that I didn't agree with; not start a fight. You've done an excellent job of clearing those points up for me. Thanks!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'm taking this all as a fairly casual conversation except for the few one liners that I haven't responded to with much diplomacy. I'm open to the discussion and open to different views on the topic as a whole. Can you honestly say that the original post in the thread, let me quote for you: " RE: Should the US control the Internet? Why not? We invented it. " - Dunston Now does that sound like someone who's open to disussing the topic and hearing different view points? I read that as a simple lazy one liner of the age old reworded "we made it, you make your own" I did not say that the US overall has said "we made it, bow to our will". What I said was that the individual who had no involvement in producing it said "we invented it, don't like it, make your own". I'm focusing on individuals using a one-liner with no real indication of thought behind it separately from focusing on the overall discussion topic. Yes, I did add the "bow down to us" for emphasis. This was still in terms of the individual who feels an unjustified sense of entitlement. The nationality of the individual is irrelevant even. I'd have said the same if someone came on here and said "hey, we made the canada arm.. you don't like it.. tell NASA to send it back and make there own." - same thing; a "we made it, make your own" argument with no thought. I wrote sever different wordings for the same basic argument concept; each time a little different, sometimes for emphasis. I clearly said that my grief was with the fact that it's a lazy and dismissive argument. I also said clearly that I was open to the idea there the argument itself could in fact be very valid if it was shown to have some valid and rational thought behind it. In a number of posts I am happy to hear rational and valid arguments for ICANN control remaining within US borders. I've acknowledged that what isn't broken shouldn't be fixed. I probably should have clarified that this discussion is really all academic anyhow since it's very unlikely that anyone involved in it actually works for ICANN or is invited to the political meeting in the original article. Even your response includes "give me some reason why it should be fixed". The original post I responded to did not offer any opening for further discussion. You have "lalalalala.. but". The original post has "lalalalalalala!". Also: Whom might that be? - I already said elsewhere that I didn't know. I mentioned that my knowledge of the UN is likely lacking. I even thanked another poster for suggesting a nationality neutral organization like IEEE which would maintain the top level domains based on best practices rather than any one countries political views. The analogy I'll try to clarify because my writing can suck. Start with a small office; one server and a bunch of workstations in a star topology. I'd personally assign responsibility for 99% up time, user maintenance and the rest of the technology management tasks to an IT expert. I wouldn't give reception the administrators uname/passwd and say "best of luck, if the server goes down or a user ID isn't canceled on time then it's your neck." Reception and IT management already have there own task lists and workloads to manage. Both are different skill sets. If we replace "business" with "military" (arguably the same thing), you have a clear rank structure through which recruits progress s based on training and promotion. As you move upward, you gain more responsibility for the branches under your position. Sargents manage Corporals, Corporals manage the level below them. In that case, I'm going to assign responsability for the IT structure of the base too someone of applicable rank. Corporal Clinger isn't going to be made responsible for the entire bases systems. I'm going to pick a Captain, hold his neck liable and give him a bunch of Corporal Clingers to order around. Using an example directly related to computers. If I have a root folder with subfolders and I need to restrict access to the folder trees within that. I'm not going to give every user access to manage the root folder. I'm going to give the server admin rights to the root folder because the admin is that level above the regular users. Each of them get there own folder to work within of course but not each other's. Now, the long winded analogy comes around to governments. The small business is planet Earth with it's Internet stretching out to all the different departments (countries). In my way of thinking about network structure, I don't put full responsibility for the user access list in the hands of one of the staff baried deep within one of the departments political structure. I give responsibility to an IT expert who's position is independent of the department heads. The IT expert would not answer to a middle manager who in turn answers to an upper manager who intern answers to the director of marketing. That would be poor business structure and network design. If (I discussed my knowledge of the UN already) the UN was a competent board of executives and each of the country a different department with it's own director (el presedente, despot, prime minister, king.. whatever), the current structure of the Internet is to have someone lower in the structure within a department managing the root level of the server. ICANN as an organization within the US is answerable to the government and is responsible for managing the root domains of a, now, international networking of systems. The correlation I was seeing is that the Internet, though based on US developed technology (And we thank the brilliant indaviduals who did that work), has grown into something larger than any one country. It's root level is still being maintained by a subset grouping of only one country affected by it though. That is fine if the organization can remain independent of it's countries politicians but it's still not good network design. I'm not sure if all that actually clarifies the analogy. Like I said though, other's have raised valid concerns about censorship which I've not seen in previous discussions over Internet control. "If it's not broken" is also a valid point to consider though I find censorship a stronger argument. Both of those allow for further discussion. Trying to present complete reasoning in full detail could easily mean everyone turning in thousand word essays on the subject. In a discussion forum, I'm not trying to write pages of thesis support or a legal document. This form of communication seems to develop in short bursts back and forth. In that regard, my reasoning may be very solid (or a complete reck) though I suspect it is simply just not expressed in full detail due to the nature of the forum. It's also not a finalized reasoning since the forum is for discussion would could easily lead to further reasoning. It's still all academic anyhow since I doubt ICANN is going to suddenly respond to the comments of one of us individuals banging away in a random chat forum.

Inkling
Inkling

But you are ultimately doing the same thing you profess to dislike by making false and/or unsubstantiated statements. [i]..."we made it so you have to bow down to our will" baseless argument.[/i] No one has said people should "bow down to our will" because we invented it. The US hasn't acted in a manner that would substantiate the "bow down to our will" comment. [i]That is purely a blow-off on the same level as covering one's ears and saying lalalalala as if that some how proves something.[/i] While not how I would put it, how else should anyone without an agenda react? By your own admission, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. No one has given any valid example of how the current process is broken. Therefore, my response to the issue is: Lalalalalala...give me something worth talking about and then we can discuss it. Also: [i]As mentioned elsewhere, I'm looking at it as more of a technical structuring issue where a network that is used by the whole organization would be ultimately managed by the top of that organization.[/i] Whom might that be? The UN is a joke to anyone capable of logical through processes or without an American hating agenda. Nor do I really understand your analogy. Are you comparing the US to a receptionist in the grand scheme of things? While you are correct that a receptionist shouldn't have access to the domain admin account, there is no real correlation to the US in this case. I'm not defending the "we made it, go make your own" argument either. I honestly don't think this is even an issue until, as someone else said, there is proven to be a breakdown in how things are currently being done. I don't mean to pick on you as I think you have it half right. I just think that you have presented your reasoning in a flawed manner.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Really, the greatest amount I know about the UN is the peace keeping efforts which are more often third party military members playing bullet dodge ball while being restrained under "do not engage" rules. I kind of figured that a controlling body elevated to the UN level would be more like the IEEE or similar interest neutral best practice organization. That's my own assumption though so I'm glad that someone specifically made a point of it as a seporate entity to Governments and the UN.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The debate/discussion/sharing could go either way without breaking my heart because there's still nothing broken to fix with the current top level domain authority. The very nature of TCP/IP means that even if, for some bizzar reason, the US cut the cabling at there borders it would simply be seen as a network issue that TCP/IP was originally designed to work around. Any opinion with more thought behind it than "I'm american, it's american, make your own if you don't like it." is perfectly valid. Heck, if that opinion was provided with some valid basis behind it then even it too could be valid; that's not usually the case with a comment like the one liner that started this series of subthreads. And your last point.. now where has there ever been an OS religious war on TR? ;) (keehee.. yeah, I can't even say that last bit with a strait face.)

jdclyde
jdclyde

if they can make a change and have their name stamped on it. You have to remember, this is an age where you become a celebrity for being rich, with no talents or skills. There once was a day that you had to do something important to be considered a celebrity.

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

Precisely and well put. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I hate to say this but this issue seems to be just another anti-American sentiment. I understand there are some that have legitimate concerns both ways, but I like your point. It's working so why change it? Ever notice how many people do things for change sakes only and no other?

jdclyde
jdclyde

I would ask what is broken and how it would/could/should be fixed. What IMPROVEMENT would be made to the internet by "giving control away"? Keep the UN out because looking at human rights and who they put in charge, shows they have no interests in the BEST interests of the human race. I don't see ANY reason to even talk about it until a problem with the existing INDEPENDENT organization has been shown other than that it has ties to the US. Sorry, but that is NOT a valid argument.

jdclyde
jdclyde

:D [i]I know, I can be an ass sometimes... ;\ [/i] I know I will give someone the short "piss off" response if they didn't give any more thought than that in WHY anything should be changed. There is a bottom line issue that is valid though of WHY would the US give up anything? How would that benefit the US? Is surely won't make the US haters change their minds, and the billions we WASTE on aid to try to show "we ain't so bad" has shown this all to clearly. The second point is, not once has anyone shown a REASON to move control. It is just blowing smoke up someones ass for the sake of bitching. next people will start up another OS religion "discussion"..... Hey, there is an idea. TR needs a THIRD category. RANTS. The OS religion wars are rarely discussions, and they NEVER ask a valid question, so RANTS would be a better fit! :p

Tig2
Tig2

Oh well. We kinda need to recall the history here and let it guide us to an answer. When multi-national consortiums of like-minded people come together and agree on direction and approach, great things can be accomplished. I don't think that any one country should control the internet. And I don't like the UN idea either. So how about getting out of the box? W3C and IEEE and others work with the brightest minds that are willing to invest time and energy in order to define standard and policy. While not regulatory in the sense that they can fine or block anyone outside of standard, they stand as the "Best Practice" standard. Why can we not do the same when it comes to the internet? Just as the Constitution and Bill of Rights theoretically rules the US, why can we not develop and define similar to apply to the internet? And why must we be so insular that we can't ask another country's opinion? I understand the reasoning to keep control in the US. I understand the reasoning to keep control out of the UN. But I think that there is a middle ground. And I think that we just need to be willing to find it. And incidentally? Al Gore shouldn't be involved...

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You raise some good points and I was going to respond in a few of the other postings but this one will do. Not to sudgest that your arguments are FUD but the two extremes "we want control out of US hands because we're not American" and "we made it, you go away" are both just white noise with the valid discussion being somewhere inbetween. "if it's not broke, don't fix it".. Absolutely, provided it remains "not broke" or can still be fixed later if it becomes broken. I also agree that any change would have to follow a clear indication of a problem and valid reasons why the change would fix it. As mentioned elsewhere, I'm looking at it as more of a technical structuring issue where a network that is used by the whole organization would be ultimately managed by the top of that organization. The tech call centre isn't going to be responsible for administrating the overall enterprise network structure. You don?t generally give the receptionist the Administrator account to the server, you give it too the CIO or the person directly under him and assigned that role. This is assuming good faith on the part of the UN also of course. My grief in this particular thread is really with the lazy "we made it, you go make your own" based argument that does nothing more than demonstrate that the person has no interest in actually thinking about the issue. If ownership of the top level domains remains within US borders for a valid reason such as the concerns over cenership which have been raised by more thoughtful participants then so be it. The reasoning there seem to ultimately be in the best interests of end user's access to information. Just don't expect me to be particularly diplomatic towards some script kiddie's "we made it so you have to bow down to our will" baseless argument. That is purely a blow-off on the same level as covering one's ears and saying lalalalala as if that some how proves something.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Thanks man, that was damn funny.. nice setup and follow through on that one.

jdclyde
jdclyde

he CREATED the internet, not INVENTED it. :p I hate it when people just can't get it right! ;\

Inkling
Inkling

I understand your point though. I guess it would depend on what you want to be effective at. Looking at the definition of effective: 1. adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result Ask Hugo Chavez how things are working out with the protests down there. Or ask China how they felt about Tiananmen Square or their international reputation for human rights, etc. Or ask that loon in Iran how happy his country is with their unemployment rates and their ability to put gas in their cars, etc. Ask the leadership in Burma just how smooth things are running for them in the aftermath of the recent protests. Dictatorships are effective at creating an illusion of stability. Once that illusion is gone, there is always trouble. EDIT: I am having a hell of a time with "there" and "their" lately...

jdclyde
jdclyde

He said "effective". A dictatorship is VERY effective at controlling their nation and all the dealings in them. You get a lot of control to make things effective when people know they may disappear if they don't do as told. Red China would be VERY effective.... Just not in a way we would like.

Inkling
Inkling

but: [i]There is only one governing body less effective than the US gov't...[/i] That is simply absurd.

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

You said, "Get enough people together and you'll never get anything accomplished". I'd just add too many people with too many competing agendas. I mean I understand the point of having the U.N. but when it comes to the larger and more controversial issues of the day, they get nothing done. About the only thing they've gotten good at in recent years to taking money from the richer nations and giving it to the poorer nations. And even then, most of the dictators and ruthless leaders of those same poor countries end up benefiting the most from those programs instead of the poor, homeless, hungry that truly need it. I think you'll start seeing a resurgence of other organizations in the future, namely NATO, because the U.N. literally gets nothing done.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

A room full of grown men and women fighting over who get's what part of the sandbox to play in with which toy truck. I gave that description to an army buddy when discussing how the military functions and he fell off his chair laughing at the accuracy of it. One has to try and find some faith in organizations like the UN but you may be closer to the truth. Get enough people together and you'll never get anything accomplished.

Inkling
Inkling

Can you offer a single, rational excuse for another country taking over these duties? Until you do, your contribution here is worthless.

Old Guy
Old Guy

You have to be a nitwit to even say something like that! The US started the Internet and freely opened it up to the WORLD! We did not push our ideals and ideas onto anyone in regards to the Internet. Frankly, I'm fed up with the whining id10ts who keep saying we Americans turn other countries against us. That is a bunch of crap! These other countries sure don't mind all the goods, money and everything else we give them, including erasing their debts they OWE us!

jdclyde
jdclyde

piss off wanker. The US Government does not run the internet, so this is a bunch of crying over nothing by people that wish they were more important, but aren't. Pushing ideals? The only US ideal for the internet is NOT to censor or limit the free exchange of ideas. Not something that the ever corrupt UN will follow.

seanferd
seanferd

that the U.S. is heading towards a less free internet. Losing Net Neutrality and the gov't installing "spy hardware" at ISPs and telcos are 2 examples. I have no alternative suggestions other than fighting to maintain internet freedom from within the U.S. for now.

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