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The DNSRF & CrowdStrike hosted a Roundtable Discussion in Washington DC - The Elephant in the Root: Are Blockchain Domain Names Threatening the DNS?

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The Roundtable discussion that took place in Washington DC on June 13 2023, was moderated by Emily Taylor. Four experts, from different corners of this field, discussed the challenges of blockchain domain names that could impact the industry and potential users. The key questions around this alt-root naming system include how they are used, and the impact of a decentralised system on cybersecurity and governance.

Blockchain Domain Names are a decentralised implementation of a DNS root zone using blockchain technology operating their own root servers. The most popular providers of blockchain domain names include: Ethereum Name Service, Unstoppable Domains, Handshake and Namecoin. Georgia Osborn, Senior Research Analyst at the DNS Research Federation described the landscape of so-called “blockchain domain names” with trends in the data. Paul Hoffman, Distinguished Technologist at ICANN highlighted the differences between Blockchain Names and the DNS. Prudence Malinki, Head of Industry Relations at MarkMonitor gave the commercial perspective looking at clients and users. Drew Bagley, Vice President and Counsel for Privacy and Cyber Policy discussed the cybersecurity implications.

The start of the Roundtable outlined many of the challenges faced by Industry, Commercial Users and Big Brands. These decentralised blockchain domain names are ungoverned, without clear laws or policies for users, companies or organisations to abide by. The DNSRF conducted a study across the top two Blockchain Domain Providers (Ethereum Name Service and Unstoppable Domains). This showed a substantial and rapid increase of Blockchain Domain Name registrations from just over one million in March 2022, to over six million registered users within a year to March 2023.

The Roundtable enabled the different sides of the discussion to come together and discuss some of these governance gaps. This provided more understanding of this emerging area. It also increased awareness of the motivations behind blockchain domain names. This discussion can often be polarised, yet by the end of the Roundtable, participants engaged with each others’ position and found common ground for further participation and research.

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