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The Truth About IP Address Regulation and Adoption

02.24.14
Samantha Walters

Behind every domain name is an Internet protocol (IP) address. IP regulation is needed to ensure the advancement of the Internet for future generations.

Recent statistics indicate that 87% of all U.S. adults use the internet at their home, place of work, or school (Gallup, 2013). That totals to 208 million U.S. adults on the internet, however very few understand how the Internet is governed.

Behind every website name is a numerical address called an IP (Internet Protocol) address, but before you dismiss this information the way in which IP addresses are allocated matters immensely.

Believe it or not regulations do exist for IP allocation. Yes, there are rules to the Internet and even governing boards to make sure IPs are not being abused.

Who is ARIN?

During the beginning stages of the internet, developers created a series of numbers, Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), to effectively and efficiently network between computers.

A few years later the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), now a department of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), was created to help manage IPv4 IP addresses. As the internet continued to grow so did the need for IPs and organizations to manage their distribution. From the 1980s through the 2000s, a number of organizations were created to do just that.

In 1997, the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), one of five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), was created as a nonprofit to issue Internet number resources in its region that today includes parts of the Caribbean, Canada, and the US. ARIN was also created to facilitate consensus-based policies and even promote the advancement of the Internet through education and outreach (ARIN, 2013). Today we rely on ARIN to implement the policies developed through open and ongoing community input. In other words, ARIN is the organization with the authority to carry-out the policies we created around Internet numbers – whatever they say, goes!

What are IPs?

To sum it up, an IP address is a number that identifies a device on a computer network (ARIN, 2013). Computer-friendly identifiers are used for moving information from a source to a destination through a process known as routing.

In essence, you are nothing but an IP address. Every device you own that is/can be connected to the internet has a unique IP address that enables you to communicate with the internet. Whether you are using a computer, WiFi enabled cell phone or tablet; right now you are utilizing at least 2 IP addresses (the computer/device you are on plus that of the web page you are browsing)

Every web page you visit has an IP address. That site address that you put in to find out the latest NBA news, whether its NBA.com or BleacherReport.com, is linked to an IP address. These site addresses (domain names as they are really called) are just labels used in place of an IP address so that your computer can locate the site on the Internet.

Test it out

Go to CNN.com and see how it looks. Now open up a new tab and type in 157.166.248.10, what do you see? Hopefully you see the same thing as what is displayed when you type in CNN.com. Since CNN.com is on its very own unique, dedicated IP address the computer communicates directly with the IP address to deliver you with the latest news. To sum it up, CNN.com is located at the address 157.166.248.10.

Even your email depends on IP addresses to communicate. Each email you send out is associated with an IP address of the domain provider you are sending from. For example, if you’re a Gmail fan then your email will be associated with an IP address from Google. It’s the same with your work email, your email is sent from the IP associated with your company’s domain name.

IP addresses are what connect us to the internet and the world. However, the world is running out, running out of IPv4 space. So what do we do now?

Check out The Truth about IP addresses Part 2 to see how ARIN is dealing with the IPv4 depletion and how you can stay connected!

By Samantha Walt

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