This very surprised-looking man is Paul Kane:
Paul is the proud owner of a key that can shut down the Internet.
Basically, Paul is in charge of making sure our lives as we know them don’t fall apart.
Here’s a picture of Paul pretending to push an ominous-looking big red ‘RESET’ button (because apparently the man who can trigger our civilisation’s demise is a bit of a joker):
So… I don’t know if anyone else knows this, but there are seven people in the world who hold keys to the Internet. Paul is one of them. Let me repeat that: The Internet has keys. And seven regular people are just walking around with those keys on their keychains or jangling in their pockets, like it’s no big deal.
I did not know this. Did anyone else know this?
Can the Internet actually be switched on and off with keys? Will the world descend into terrifying mayhem if Sharon from Minnesota accidentally leaves her key in a McDonalds?
I’m trying to get my head around it this. I don’t really understand complicated computer thingies/gizmos/wizbangmabobs but here’s what I’ve managed to piece together so far:
According to The Guardian, seven people in the world are the ‘primary keyholders’ of the Internet. Those seven people all have very fancy backgrounds in Internet security.
They have been chosen for their geographical spread (no one country can own the citizenship of all the keyholders), as well as their experience in fancy computer stuff.
Each of these Internet overlords has an actual, physical metal key, and they are in charge of something called the Domain Name System (DNS).
Basically, if the Internet totally goes to shit (think Y2K, stock up on canned foods, planes not flying, trains not coming off tracks, hospital machines not being able to communicate with each other…. that level of cray). These seven people hold the seven keys that can reboot the Internet and save us all.
So how do they do it?
As far as I can tell, the Domain Name System is the thing that gives all IP addresses domain names that are easy to remember.
So, without the DNS, you would have to remember a complex number for every website, rather than an easy name. So Mamamia.com.au would become something like 345.754.937.xxx.xxx.xxx etc.
And if the Domain Name System stuffs up, the Internet would be in the crapper and would take weeks or even months to fix. In that time, the world’s population would almost definitely descend into Thunderdome-style chaos. Which is something we should probably avoid if we can.
That’s where the Internet Keyholders come in. When the power of their seven keys is combined (ala Captain Planet), they can access and fix the Domain Name System to correct any problems and keep it running smoothly.
Apparently, each of the keys opens a safety deposit box. In that safety deposit box is a smartcard. When each of those smartcards is activated by the keyholder, something fancy and technical happens and they are then inside (?) the Domain Name System, where they can fix anything that’s been broken/hacked/virused-up etc. (I’m imagining the Domain Name System looks like that computer room in The Matrix, although if you try to verify that it will almost certainly be wrong.)
So that’s it. Seven people on earth are literally walking around with keys to the Internet. Seven people on earth actually have the power to SHUT THIS SHIT DOWN.
At least Paul Kane looks really, really excited about it.
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