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The Domain Name System

The Internet boom of recent years has contributed to thousands of domain name registrations at entities such as Network Solutions and Register.com. Prices for registering a domain name have fallen to as low as $20 per year. The abundance of choices available has made registering domain names a bit more confusing, but it is still a simple enough process for the average computer-savvy person. Domain names grew out of a need to translate the IP address scheme into a more understandable format. But before delving into the privacy issues associated with domain names, let's take a quick look at how it all works.

The Domain Name System enables the mapping of domain names and IP addresses. It also enables the easy conversion of system names (which are easy for humans to remember) to numerical IP addresses (which are required by machines but more difficult for humans to remember). An example is when a user types http://www.privacydefended.com in a Web browser. The machine must convert that text string to a numerical IP address (192.168.1.200) so that the request can be properly routed to the appropriate Web server. Therefore, a domain name is actually an alias for an IP address. Multiple domains can point to the same IP address, but a domain has only one IP address.


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