Place/Date: - March 9th, 2022 at 10:15 am UTC · 5 min read
Fans of a future where the internet has moved beyond the control of a few big players have always envisioned a truly free and democratized space, one where users, not a handful of tech giants, have total control over their data and unlimited choice on where and how to use it.
The path to this fully decentralized internet – sometimes referred to as Web 3.0 – will be long, and encompass many complicated moving parts. And success in getting there is far from guaranteed. One new venture, however, promises to open up a fascinating piece of the Web 3.0 to tens of millions of people in 2022.
Opera, the multi-platform web browser, recently announced that it has partnered with the dWeb Foundation to integrate dWeb’s decentralized blockchain domain naming system, called Handshake, into its browser. The integration will go live to Opera’s over 320 million active users in the first half of 2022.
Susie Batt, Crypto Ecosystem Lead at Opera, said:
“For Opera, as a web3-ready browser, it’s key to provide access to decentralized domains and domain naming solutions. That’s why we’re excited to partner with the dWeb Foundation and integrate Handshake to give our users access to web3 domains they can truly own.”
The opaque world of website domain names is one that is often misunderstood, if understood at all, by most internet users. There are over one billion web addresses in the world today, but many people don’t realize that the entire domain name industry is controlled at the root by a single organization.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that is responsible for overseeing the so-called DNS root, the highest level of the hierarchical global network of DNS servers. ICANN is also responsible for allocating new top-level domain names(TLDs), which include .com, .org, .net, and most two-letter country codes.
The average internet user may not see a problem with this setup but various players across the internet have long warned that relying on a wholly centralized approach to the very root of the internet opens up the entire system to a world of bad outcomes, like corporate and government pressure, fraud, hacking, censorship, or the prohibition of certain names. In many ways the closed and murky world of internet naming serves as a microcosm of the root problems of the current Web 2.0 era, where more and more of the internet is controlled by a few tech giants.
Several recent projects have attempted to crack this monopoly on internet naming, with Handshake having attracted a lot of excitement. The project’s aim is to create a decentralized internet that relies on a peer-to-peer system to dole out web domains.
Handshake offers decentralized domain names which allows users to own a top-level domain name rather than renting it from companies like Godaddy or Bluehost. This means users can actually own dot(yourname) and act as their own business. A person could actually rent out or sell things like computer.(yourname) or storefront.(yourname.). People can sell as many subdomains as they wish.
A Handshake domain name is an NFT that exists on the blockchain and uses a coin system for name registration. With a Handshake coin (HNS) users can transfer, register, and update internet names. The community can hold auctions and place bids for top-level domains using HNS or trade their HNS as they see fit, and at a price of their choosing.
Chjango U, executive director of dweb foundation, a not-for-profit started in 2020 and aimed at driving Handshake adoption, said:
“We’re inching ever closer to the dream of a decentralized web, where user sovereignty is preserved and data is controlled by you rather than by a tech giant. Opera is positioning itself as a forward-thinking company by being the first major browser to natively supporting Handshake into its browser experience. Opera’s over 380 million active users will be enabled to browse and host their piece of a censorship-resistant web with HNS top-level domain names.”
Anyone who longs for the possibilities of the coming Web 3.0 era can certainly appreciate a decentralized, permissionless naming system that takes on the old guard of Certificate Authorities operating in the traditional DNS namespace hierarchy. And by providing a more advanced, secure, open, and accountable network, a piece of the puzzle that will become the newer, freer internet will have been put in place.
Chajango U. said:
“A truly democratized Web 3.0 can only be fully realized once we’ve moved onto new infrastructure. Handshake is a critical piece of the puzzle to make that paradigm shift. Opera pioneering the path forward as the first major browser to support HNS speaks to its forward-thinking vision and positioning in the browser space. This partnership just marks the beginning of the work that lies ahead for building a decentralized web. The premise of the decentralization movement posits that we should not ever need to rely on any single authority, especially one that acts as the gatekeeper to the highway of all human knowledge.”