On 28 February, crypto/ set a record on Namebase.io with a 1 million HNS lockup ($200k USD!). This is no “fun fact”. The price of HNS shot up 47% over the last 24 hours, following the record bid. Last week, podcaster and crypto evangelist Anthony Pompliano said he’s “extremely bullish” about HNS while interviewing Namebase CEO Tieshun Roquerre for Off the Chain. During a chat with CULT, Tieshun announced the latest record bid of Crypto/ as a “fun fact”. But let’s wake up, this is no “fun fact”. Namebase.io and HNS is a new reality when it comes to decentralising the Domain Name System (DNS) protocol. And the record bid is an indication of how crucial it is to overhaul the current DNS system. Crypto enthusiasts, journalists, internet geeks and libertarians should take note. Excerpts from the chat with Tieshun.

How did Namebase.io happen?

My co-founder Anthony Liu and I met the Handshake team together in 2018 and learned how Handshake makes DNS more secure, censorship-resistant, seizure-resistant, truly-owned, and private. It was then that we decided to build Namebase, which is basically infrastructure to support Handshake adoption. I didn’t think I could do anything to protect the Internet when I first encountered censorship in Turkey. Even as I watched the trajectory of freedom and safety on the Internet take a nosedive, I still didn’t do anything because there was no feasible way to change the system. Now I know that there is a path forward because Handshake can flip the authoritarian model of traditional DNS on its head.

And what is Handshake?

Handshake is a new naming protocol that’s backwards compatible with the existing DNS. It does not replace the DNS protocol, but it replaces the root zone file (where TLD ownership is stored) and the root servers with a blockchain-based system that anyone can use. This allows the root zone to be uncensorable, permissionless and free of gatekeepers like the ICANN which manages the root zone today.

What does this mean in the real world?

The past two years have forced me to care about Issues around freedom and safety on the internet. In fact, the issues have increased in frequency and magnitude and they’re affecting every country, including the US. It’s gotten to the point that I can no longer ignore what’s happening because the Internet is at risk. These issues are becoming important enough that no one in the world can ignore them—if the trends continue then you, your brothers, your sisters, your parents, and your children will live in a world that’s worse off than what we have today.

We’ve seen trends where the internet itself is being shut down by governments to manage propaganda. How do we address this?

One of the reasons I like Handshake is that it’s focused on a specific layer instead of trying to boil the ocean. The end state with Handshake is that the cost of censorship goes way up because they can no longer rely on DNS filtering and have to resort to more advanced censorship. At that point people will use a storage layer like siacoin with Handshake, which will again increase the cost of censoring/controlling the internet. The way to think about security and censorship is not as a binary but as a spectrum. You can break any system you want if you had infinite resources. The goal is to increase the cost such that it’s unfeasible or ranks lower than other priorities authoritarian governments have.

“ORGANISATIONS AT THE TOP OF THE INTERNET HIERARCHY FAIL TO PROTECT OUR SECURITY AND ABUSE THEIR CONTROL FOR PROFIT”

But it’s not just authoritarian governments that stifle freedom.

True, the actors involved in hurting freedom and safety on the Internet are not limited to governments. Organisations at the top of the Internet hierarchy fail to protect our security and abuse their control for profit. Certificate Authorities, which enable secure communications on the Internet via HTTPS, have weak security practices and are regularly compromised—the system as a whole is broken. ICANN, the organisation in charge of governing the DNS, recently removed price caps on .COM and .ORG domains even though it was universally opposed. To make matters worse, ICANN tried to sell .ORG to a private equity firm affiliated with ICANN’s ex-CEO. This is textbook regulatory capture.

Has there been a lot of interest around Namebase and HNS so far?

Today there are a number of organisations, investors, and developers who support Handshake… Usually you need to choose between a good cause or an economic opportunity. Fighting climate change isn’t profitable, that’s why it’s so difficult. Crypto offers an alternative. The beauty of Bitcoin is that the earliest evangelists were rewarded with more wealth than they ever could have achieved otherwise—Bitcoin was the best investment of the decade. Handshake presents the same opportunity. Handshake domains are digital real estate. The more they spread, the more people have access to the new free Internet, the more valuable Handshake domains become.

Now to talk about HNS mining- how feasible is it to mine HNS?

There is a ton of interest in the mining community. Handshake is one of the most profitable coins to mine https://blog.f2pool.com/en/announcement-en/hns-en-2

There’s a renewal tx you need to submit but there’s no fee for that other than the mining fee. Namebase handles that automatically for you if you won it through our system. We don’t charge any fees for bidding or renewals.

What is next for namebase.io?

Next for namebase.io is USD payments (<3 weeks away), a secondary marketplace for Handshake TLDs, and subdomain management. We’ll post more instructions on resolving Handshake names and using them soon. Also fun fact crypto/ set a record yesterday with a 1m HNS lockup ($200k USD!)

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