Vint Cerf, Father of the Internet, Leaves I-CANN Vint Cerf, co-founder of the Internet, is stepping down from his role as chairman of the group Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or I-CANN. Cerf talks about the future of I-CANN and what's ahead for Internet domains.
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Vint Cerf, Father of the Internet, Leaves I-CANN

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Vint Cerf, Father of the Internet, Leaves I-CANN

Vint Cerf, Father of the Internet, Leaves I-CANN

Vint Cerf, Father of the Internet, Leaves I-CANN

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/15883628/15883604" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Listen to Vint Cerf discuss what he sees in the future for the Internet.

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Vint Cerf, co-founder of the Internet, is stepping down from his role as chairman of the group Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or I-CANN.

Cerf tells Alex Cohen that he knew early on that the Internet would grow to be something quite large and that domain names would be one of the biggest issues to deal with. That led to the establishment of I-CANN, an organization that works to regulate the Internet. Since I-CANN was launched in 1998, Cerf says it's been a successful venture.

However, as the man who's often called the father of the Internet leaves I-CANN, there are a number of big issues still facing the Web, including the need for a highly stable and reliable domain name system and setting policy for domain names.

I-CANN also faces complaints that it is too American-centric. For example, people who read other languages like Hebrew, Japanese or Chinese complain that they can't type in their native alphabets.

Cerf says he's angered by these complaints. He says I-CANN was founded with a governmental advisory committee with members from outside the United States. And the only place where there has been an issue with using other alphabets is with domain names.

"I will tell you that it has taken six years of work by the Internet Engineering Task Force to get to the point that we have a technical standard which will protect people from confusingly similar expressions of domain names," Cerf says. "Because if you look at the various scripts of Greek and Russian and Latin, you will discover lots of characters that look exactly the same. This is a hard technical problem and people have worked very very hard to resolve them before we start putting the domain names out there. We are trying to protect the users."

While there is a lot of debate about what the Internet should be used for — education, entertainment, profit-making — Cerf says the Internet is for everyone. He describes the Internet as a platform, like a road system that connects towns and cities. It's up to the users to decide how to get around on it.

Cerf leaves his post at I-CANN on Friday. He will continue to serve as chief Internet evangelist for Google.