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The Internet Illuminati: Seven Hold Keys to the Digital Universe

It’s a story straight out of a Dan Brown novel: Seven people from across the globe have been chosen to hold the keys to the Internet.

The key holders are from the U.S., U.K., Burkina Faso, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, China and the Czech Republic, ensuring that no one person — or nation — will hold all the power.

In the event of a terrorist or other attack on the Internet, the key holders will be flown to an undisclosed location in the U.S. Each key contains a fragment. If at least five are united, they will form a master key that can restore the Internet.

(That’s a smart move: If the law of inviting people to parties holds true, you never know when two of the seven will have prior commitments and can’t make it to save the Internet — and civilization as we know it.)

Of course, the geeks who created this Domain Name Security System tapped into all of their sci-fi skillz to make the announcement dramatic:

“More has happened here today than meets the eye,”said Vinton Cerf, a former program manager with the Department of Defense who’s now with Google and goes by the galactic street name of “Father of the Internet.” “An infrastructure has been created for a hierarchical security system which can be purposed and repurposed in a number of different ways,” he said, practically writing the Hollywood script.

But, like all good secret society plots, there are more questions than answers, such as:

  • Why Burkina Faso?
  • Trinidad & Tobago—really?
  • Would you be able to get a direct flight from either of those countries to the undisclosed US location in the event of global emergency?
  • Will these people have other jobs, or is their permanent job now Holder of the Key to the Internet?
  • Where do you keep a key to the Internet—in the ice box? Digitally implanted in your neck?
  • Do you have to stop skydiving, showering during thunderstorms and other risky behavior after you become a Holder of the Key to the Internet?
  • What happens if you lose your key to the Internet? Can you give a backup to that nice old lady next door just in case?
Source: cdns.net


Each key is made in a “cryptographic box,” which sounds thrilling, but the illuminat-ous gleam starts to fade when you take a look at what one of the actual keys looks like: It’s like that flimsy cardboard emergency-contact card you get free with a new wallet. My New Jersey driver’s license is more futuristic with its wall of holographic seals that protect mini-me.

And, while you might have been expecting that the Knighting of the Key Holders as Spielberg will write it (or, Trusted Community Representatives, as they’re actually, nerdily called) would be some dramatic secret ceremony involving hooded robes and chanting, they were actually handed their keys in a plastic, tamper-proof evidence bag.

Sci-Fi boys, you disappoint me. After all the secret levers in the ancient stone wall and glitches in the space-time continuum we’ve been through, you give me an emergency-contact card in a Ziploc .

Still, some could not resist the urge to romanticize this intriguing tale of power and codes.

“I'd be honored to have that kind of Internet rock-star status!” said Alyx Kaczuwka, author of the blog LOLFed.com. “ I'd plate the key in gold and wear it around my neck on a big gold chain, and hire people from various Internet memes to be my bodyguards,” she quipped.

Of course, if you were one of the chosen ones, you’d have to give up your Facebook page, in the name of national—sorry, GLOBAL—security, points out Joshua Brown, a VP at Fusion Analytics and the author of the blog TheReformedBroker.com.

We don’t know who all of the seven are, but the BBC reports that Paul Kane of the University of Bath’s SETsquared Innovation Centre is the delegate from western Europe.

"I'm honoured and excited to be recognised," Kane said in a way that only a British businessman can.

Brown suggests that Snooki or The Situation from the show “Jersey Shore”might also be a good choice—no one would ever suspect them. The secret location could be a bar in Seaside Heights, N.J.—and the code could be GTL (gym, tanning, laundry)!

Comedian Harrison Greenbaumagrees: “I would hide my key in something a nerdy cyberterrorist would never be able to find—like a girlfriend!"

Someone get Megan Foxon the horn, we’ve got a movie to make!

The stars are twinkling in the sky as the words start to slowly scroll up the screen and an announcer says in a deep voice:

In a world … where seven people are handed the keys to the Internet … in a Ziploc baggie …

The nation’s very security hangs in the balance ...

Will they be able to save David After Dentist, Keyboard Catand all of the Internet Universe?

It will be the challenge of their lives for they are ... THE CHOSEN SEVEN.

Illuminati Treats:

Google Predicts the Future. You knew that Google Earth in all of its invasive glory was only a peek through the portal of what was to come. And now, Google is teaming up with the CIA to predict the future.

Thomas’s English Secrets. Apparently only seven people (there they go again with that number seven!) know the secret recipe for making all the nooks and cranniesin Thomas’s English Muffins. A judge ruled one of the seven can’t go work for a rival.


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  • Cindy Perman is a writer at CNBC.com, covering jobs, real estate, retirement and personal finance.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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