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The .INTERNAL domain could be the new name for your home network

Router and mesh satellites on wooden deskImage: Thomas Newton / Foundry

Anyone who’s set up a router probably understands that the IP address “192.168.x.x” signifies your local IP address. Anyone who hasn’t…doesn’t. And the global nonprofit which oversees the Internet’s address space wants to remove the confusion with a new domain: .INTERNAL.

So what, you might be saying. Most routers handle this thing behind the scenes! But just as routers have begun taking this over, a new crop of AI apps have begun using local IPs as a server interface, making it relevant once again.

On January 24, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers proposed the .INTERNAL domain (noted by The Register) as a solution to the local IP issue.

“There are certain circumstances where private network operators may wish to use their own domain naming scheme that is not intended to be used or accessible by the broader Domain Name System, such as within closed corporate or home networks, ICANN wrote. “IANA currently has demarcated special blocks of private-use IP addresses for such applications, but there is no comparable designated private-use namespace in the DNS. This has resulted in operational practices including informal use of top-level domains that have the potential to conflict with the root zone, or other designated purposes.”

Jared Newman / Foundry

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is a department of ICANN which assigns global IP addresses and zone management in the Domain Name System (DNS).

ICANN came down to two strings: .PRIVATE and .INTERNAL. It dropped the first because it felt that the term implied a higher degree of privacy, which isn’t true. ICANN will allow time for public comment, after which the board will vote on the adoption.

Again, it’s relatively rare for the average consumer to run into the local IP block in their daily activities. Some of the newer AI apps — variants of Stable Diffusion being one example — do, however. In those cases, installing the files creates a local “server” that you access via a Web GUI. While it’s still pretty clear that you’re pinging your own PC (virtually no one accesses a site via its numerical IP address) it’s not always clear to the average user that they’re not contacting a different server. The new .INTERNAL domain will try and make that crystal clear.

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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