The foundations have been laid for upgrading the internet with an improved system for identifying computers around the globe.

A new identification technology has been built into a number of the internet’s master, or “root” servers, which supply subsidiary servers, announced the US-based independent body that coordinates the internet’s address system, the Los Angeles-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), on Wednesday.



“This is a big, big step,” said Vinton Cerf, who designed the communications protocol that supports most internet traffic flow, called TCP/IP, and is now a member of ICANN’s board of directors.



The internet uses a numerical system to identify computers connected around the world. Numerical addresses are mapped to names by domain name servers. For example, the domain name www.newscientist.com directs requests to computers with the Internet Protocol address 194.203.155.123, which identifies the computer hosting the site.



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